Staley High School Talon, Volume 14, Issue 2, December 2021, Kansas City, Mo.

Page 1




A B Grease Photo Essay 8-9

District Lifts Mask Mandate After Break 14-15

Whataburger In Town 18-19

Staley High School Kansas City, Mo. Issue 2 Volume 14 December 2021


Cassie Ford


Landyn Goldberg

Reporter, Photographer

Hannah Moore

Editor-In-Chief, Ads Manager

Fallyn Kowalski

Reporter, Columnist


Charlie Warner

Managing Editor, Copy Editor

Humberto Bermudez

Grace Winkler


Reporter, Designer, Graphic Artist

Brianne Tremper

Managing Editor

Beck Marier Staff

Elyse Bredfeldt Copy Editor

Aeyika Hatch

Isabella Dorrington Social Chair

Alaina Licausi



Cherie Burgett, Adviser Jackie Uptegrove, Student Teacher

On the cover, the districted removed two books from highschool libraries Nov. 19 after parent complaints about what they considered explicit content, but they quickly returned them. Senior Cassie Ford photo illustration demonstrates the censorship of First Amendment rights.



4-5 SPORTS Girls Wrestling Rises In Popularity 11 FEATURE Opportunities For College Credit In High School 18-19 OPINION Whataburger In Town

6 SPORTS Wrestlers Reflect On Past Seasons

7 FEATURE Flex Your Kicks

14-15 NEWS District Lifts Indoor Mask Requirements After Break 20 21 OPINION OPINION Artists Get Warner's Music Rights World 12-13 NEWS District Bans Books, Reverses Ban

Talon Issue 2 Volume 14 Table Of Contents

8-9 FEATURE Photos From 'Grease' The Musical

10 FEATURE Costa Rica Spring Break Trip Planned

16 NEWS Hand Signal Helps Dangerous Situation 22-23 LIFESTYLES So Much To See During Holidays

17 NEWS Requirements For Lettering Academically 24 LIFESTYLES Program Offers Recognition For Artists



ook banning has become a problem in the North Kansas City School District as well as in schools across the United States. Parent groups are pressuring school boards to ban books discussing sexuality, gender and race, claiming they contain explicit content and are corrupting students' morals. In some cases school boards have been siding with parents and removing these books from their libraries. While parents might think this solves the issue of students being introduced to something they view as graphic content or immoral, it creates another issue entirely: violating the students’ First Amendment rights. Books are an outlet for students to learn about diverse topics and discover themselves through reading, but with certain topics being banned, students might not feel seen or represented by the books in school libraries. The North Kansas City school district removed two LGBTQ+ books from high school libraries before reversing the decision and replacing them. Book banning withholds important information from students, a form of censorship, which violates the First Amendment. Some students find it hard to ask questions about different topics

and might rely on books to answer them or to read about the experiences of people they relate to. Furthermore, book banning limits students’ freedom to make their own choices. Parents can often pressure their kids into having the same beliefs and morals that they do, which can make it difficult for teenagers to think for themselves and find their own voice. High schoolers should be able to decide for themselves which topics they want to read about. Parents claim these books contain graphic content that they don’t want portrayed in schools. While they are entitled to their own opinion, it's not only their opinion that matters. Some teens and parents might interpret these books differently because these specific scenes are not the main point of the book. The two books from school NKCSD libraries were “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson, and “Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel. Both books contain LGBTQ+ sexual content. The district banned these books because of the content and graphic wording by complaints of parents. A common theme with these books is that most depict lifestyles of the LGBTQ+ community and are written by black authors. But there

are books in school libraries that have heterosexual graphic content as well, that are not being reported by parents. Therefore, is it really the explicitness of the text? Or is it parents’ opinion of the LGBTQ+ community? Banning these books is discriminatory to the LGBTQ+ community. Book banning is disguised as protecting students but often is actually sheltering students while promoting parents’ beliefs. But just because a book is banned at school doesn’t mean students won’t find a way to read it. Banned books actually intrigue students to figure out why they were banned, which is counterintuitive to these parents’ efforts. It’s important for students to feel represented at school, and banning books focusing on LGBTQ+, gender identity, and racial inequality is doing the complete opposite. NKC schools have placed the books back on school shelves, but that's not the case for other districts. Instead of trying to ban controversial topics, schools should focus on creating a comfortable space to have conversations, not promote exclusion of certain groups. This starts with keeping the books in circulation at school libraries. Graphic by Cassie Ford

Our Socials StaleyNews



For more stories, videos and photos, visit

Talon Issue 2 Volume 14 Editorial


PIN DOWN THE SPORT Girls Wrestling Rises In Popularity


ince the school opened, there has only been a boys wrestling team. But in 2017, a wrestling team exclusively for girls was started, and one coach who has been with the girls wrestling team since the beginning was Nic Brent. “Having coached a female athlete, Victoria Norris, who wrestled with the boys for several years – long before there was talk of having a girls team, it seemed like a great opportunity to build the sport,” Brent said. When the girls wrestling team first began, there were 11 wrestlers on the team. Now there are 32: 13 freshmen, six sophomores, four juniors and nine seniors. The wrestling team is allowed 20 competitions per wrestler, due to MSHAA regulations, meaning that there are multiple opportunities to succeed.


Talon Issue 2 Volume 14 Sports

Sophomore wrestler Emma Mott competed at state her freshman year. “I cried at the match that I won to go to state,” Mott said. “I got really emotional; it was the biggest goal I set for myself last year.” Wrestlers work to build communities within the sport, and older wrestlers mentor the younger ones. “One thing that’s special about wrestling compared to some other sports is that it’s something that really gets handed down from person to person,” Brent said. It's built into the team that the girls will help the younger athletes learn the rules the sport. “Joining in high school was the best idea because of all the support you get from the other girls,” junior Chase Kiel said. Most of the team had little to no

prior experience wrestling before joining the high school team due to the fact that most middle schools don’t have an exclusively girls wrestling program. There has been an increase in the number of athletes on the team this year due to the community the sport builds. “I think the reason we have gotten such growth is because we have so many veterans that are able to take new wrestlers and pass that knowledge onto them,” Brent said. “And everybody wants to have someone that’s going to mentor them along through anything.” Written by Brianne Tremper Trying to pin her opponent, senior Kule’a Grace holds down freshman Kaylee Anthony from getting up Nov. 22. Anthony was working on specific skills to improve her game. “Right now, I’m solely focusing on shooting, because last year I was not offensive at all,” Grace said. “I’m trying to perfect it so I don’t overthink in my head.” // Photo by Humberto Bermudez

Ready to defend herself from being pinned during practice Nov. 22, sophomore Makenna Ward holds her stance against freshman Brianna Simpson. It was Ward's first year wrestling. "I’m learning a lot," Ward said. "I’m trying to put a lot of effort in to get caught up with the rest of the girls.” // Photo by Humberto Bermudez Holding her opponent from getting back up, junior Chase Kiel gets ready to pin senior Lexi Hatfield Nov. 22. Keil said they have been working hard during their practices. “We’re having our practices more like realistic matches,” Kiel said. “I’m starting to feel more prepared.” // Photo by Humberto Bermudez



When I went to Texas to go for the world trials. I got 16th out of 64.

Nayeli Valles, 11

How well I did my freshman year. That year really kept me in wrestling and kept me going.

Being able to do just a lot of physical activity, and everyone is just a lot of fun to be around.

Emma Mott, 10

Chloe Sheckells, 12

The away meets that are down in Columbia. I think it brings us closer as a team.

Bella Leddick, 9

Talon Issue 2 Volume 14 Sports


BACK IN TIME Coaches Starts Tracking Future Wrestlers Early


he boys wrestling program is more strategic than people may think. Wrestlers often start the sport early in elementary school and continue through high school, often because of the intentionality put into their retainment. Wrestling coach Elisha Bears said coaches observe wrestlers when they are younger in hopes of figuring out who will continue in the sport on a highschool level. “We have two opportunities to look at wrestlers,” Bears said. “The first is through our youth program called Team Central Wrestling. We have three levels, and I try to get in to see each of those levels.” Bears said coaches in the program like to track how many athletes in each grade are interested in wrestling and then focus on recruitment and retention, especially if the group for that age is smaller. He said typically coaches like to look four to seven years in the future to try to make sure there will consistently be wrestlers

about getting us through the highschool experience,” Marrah said. Before they started high school, Staley coaches knew about each of their now-senior wrestlers. “We knew coming up that they were very proficient in what they were doing,” Bears said. “We knew talent level and weight because we have 14 weight classes; what weights they might fit into early and what we would hope they would grow into as they got older.” Over the years as the senior wrestlers dedicated time and effort to their sport, the coaches spent time helping them grow as wrestlers and as people. “They have continued to become better wrestlers, better people, better kids inside the classroom,” Bears said. “What I will take away from them is just that growth mindset and that ability to grow as people.” Written by Elyse Bredfeldt Photos Courtesy of Austin Marrah, Jackson Murray, Thomas Schraeder

Jackson Murray

Austin Marrah

Thomas Schraeder

about your wrestling journey? A: Stick with it. Work harder at it. Q: What has wrestling taught you these past years? A: It has helped me grow overall as a person with responsibility and discipline. It has helped me build friendships for life.

about your wrestling journey? A: I would tell my younger self to be a little more careful with how you handle your body. Injuries pile up quick in wrestling. Q: What has wrestling taught you these past years? A: Wrestling has made me so much stronger as a person. It has really allowed me to learn the value of my time and labor.

about your wrestling journey? A: It’s going to be really hard but no matter what, no matter what Bears says, no matter what anyone says keep going with it. Q: What has wrestling taught you these past years? A: It’s taught me a lot. It’s taught me that I’m a lot more than I think I am, and I can do a lot. If anyone puts their mind to it, they can achieve anything.

Q: What would you tell your younger self


joining the team. Though the coaches do not train the students until high school, they spend time connecting with the younger wrestlers in their middle school years. “We’re more there to support them, give them high fives, encourage them, to say hello, to create those relationships,” Bears said. A group of students who have grown up in the program are the senior wrestlers. Bears has coached them throughout high school, but he has known them for many years. “Most of the senior kids that we have right now grew up in our youth wrestling club,” Bears said. “I had at least seen them every couple of days throughout the season, but then I have coached all of them since they were freshmen.” Senior wrestler Austin Marrah appreciated the way his coach offered multiple practice opportunities and prioritized their health. “Bears has been really good

Talon Issue 2 Volume 14 Sports

Q: What would you tell your younger self

Q: What would you tell your younger self


Sneaker Heads Flex Favorite Kicks


The Nike 'Orange Pearl' Dunks are my favorwite because I love pink. I also really like Dunks because they’re really stylish and go with a lot.

Eliana Rhoads, 11

I have the Off-White Prestos, and they are my favorite because they’re unique. They go with everything; they’re super comfortable, and no one really has them, but everyone knows what they are. They’re Off-Whites.

Nathan Le, 10

The Jordan 1 “University Blue” are one of my favorites because I have a lot of light blue stuff in my closet. They look good, they feel good, and I get a lot of compliments for them.

Interviews by Landyn Goldberg Photos by Landyn Goldberg

Isaac Kinkade, 11

Talon Issue 2 Volume 14 Feature


Photos From Grease The Musical Graphic by Cassie Ford

Ending with a big finale, senior Shelbie Caldwell (Sandy) and Drew Mangold (Danny) kiss, with the ensemble finishing up the song “You’re the One I Want,” Nov. 19. The finale required a quick costume change for Caldwell. “I think the musical was amazing,” Caldwell said. “It was better than I ever anticipated. Everyone in the cast gave their all and did such a great job.” // Photo by Humberto Bermudez


Talon Issue 2 Volume 14 Feature

Singing and playing guitar, junior Lucas Van Keirsbilck (Doody) performs his solo. Van Keirsbilck sang “Those Magic Changes,” on the second night of the musical Nov. 19. “I felt pretty confident because it was a little bit out of my range,” Van Keirsbilck said. “But I just went through and just played all my notes the best I could.” // Photo by Humberto Bermudez

Dancing in sync, senior Allison Loar (Frenchy) competes with her school dance partner senior Mathew Webb (Sonny) during the “Grease” hand jive competition Nov. 19. Loar and Mathew Webb researched and practiced the dance for weeks before the show. “I was very excited during the performance because it's my senior year in musicals, and it's one I’ve always wanted to do,” Loar said. “I was a little anxious, but I was super happy with how it turned out. I love the energy.” // Photo by Humberto Bermudez

Wrapping up “Grease Lightning,” senior Danny McGurn (Kenickie) and the T-Birds pose together on opening night of “Grease” Nov. 18. McGurn was atop Grease Lightning when the song ended. “It was new for me,” McGurn said. “I thought I did pretty well for my first time, especially with how long we’ve had to practice. If we had more time with more performances, then I would’ve gotten better.” // Photo by Humberto Bermudez

While teasingly placing her first on senior Drew Mangold’s (Danny Zuko) face, senior Bella Dorrington (Rizzo) sings “Sandra Dee” with seniors Alli Loar and Claire Swiss (Pink Ladies) watching. Together they do well and played their parts really well. “I think as a whole the cast meshed well together. I saw how they reflected the characters really well,” Mangold said. // Photo by Humberto Bermudez

Performing her solo “There Are Worse Things I Can Do,” Nov. 19, senior Bella Dorrington (Rizzo) sings to the crowd. This was Dorrington’s second musical and first leading role. “Rizzo was literally my dream role,” Dorrington said. “I’ve been practicing since I was 4.” // Photo by Humberto Bermudez Explaining the rules of the hand jive competition, sophomore Asher Favre (Vince Fontaine) and senior Jay Schmidtlein (Miss Lynch) prepare the characters for the big school dance Nov. 19. Schmidtlein and Favre also played ensemble boys. “I felt really happy and excited to be part of the cast,” Favre said. “It was a really good experience, and I think we all did an amazing job.” // Photo by Humberto Bermudez

While getting ready to start the musical Nov. 19, senior Lily Rayl (Patty) sits with sophomore Blake Pfannes (Eugene) during the introduction. It was Rayl’s first Staley theater production. “I felt good,” Rayl said. “I was excited, and I liked my part, and we had an amazing cast. We all just pulled together and performed well.”// Photo by Humberto Bermudez

Talon Issue 2 Volume 14 Feature


GOING THE DISTANCE Trip To Costa Rica Planned For Spring Break

Sarapiqui 3/17-3/18


Costa Rica, but his first with Staley. The trip was originally scheduled for 2019 but was postponed due to the pandemic. Carter said he hoped the Costa Rica trip would start a growth of student trips, with plans for an East Coast trip in Summer 2022 and a Japan trip during Spring Break 2023 with social studies teacher Kendall Benner following Carter’s retirement. “I think travel is an investment,” Carter said. “I’d rather have stamps in my passport than things in my house. I get a lot more experience in life by trying other foods and listening to other languages and seeing natural beauties around the world than I do by buying a new game system.” Junior Victoria

Talon Issue 2 Volume 14 Feature

Cobbinah said she’s going because she wanted to experience being outside of the United States for the first time. “I haven’t really been out of the country at all,” Cobbinah said. “I thought Costa Rica would be really cool to experience, especially their culture.” Carter said he believed exploration is key to a person’s growth. “Set aside some time and money to explore the world while you can,” Carter said. “Since COVID has hit, we now know there is a finite amount of time for some people, so carpe diem.” Written by Landyn Goldberg Graphics by Grace Winkler

I’m hoping to learn more and to be more adventerous and kind of try new things.

Rylee Proudfit, 11

I think it will be fun, and I’m excited to try new food and go


Miles Boyce, 10

Just have fun down there. My coach will be down there, so I will probably be practicing and running on the beach.


osta Rica will be the spring break destination for 32 students taking a trip to explore what the country has to offer. Senior Ben Hensel planned to attend the trip and said he wanted to have a fun sendoff to end his high school career. “I’m just trying to experience other cultures and have a good time, honestly,” Hensel said. “It’s my senior year, why not go to Costa Rica?” ELL teacher James Carter is the trip's coordinator and one of the chaperones. “We’re going to go down there,” Carter said. “We’re going to be safe and have a heck of a good time.” It will be Carter’s fourth student trip to

Victoria Cobbinah, 11

San Jose 3/19-3/20

Guanacaste 3/13-3/14

Arenal Region 3/15-3/16


WORKING TOWARD FUTURE Career Programs Offer Hands-On Experience


ne of the two main career education opportunities available to students are the programs offered by Northland Career Center. NCC offers 13 different career programs to students, allowing them to see if they like the career path before they go on to pursue an education in the subject. A variety of programs are offered, such as: agriculture sciences, culinary arts, construction technology and law enforcement crime scene investigation. Senior Mia Alvarez is part of the teaching professions program at Northland Career Center. Alvarez is interning as a second-grade student teacher in the Platte County School District. In this role she helps the teacher with behavior management and assists students with work and understanding of concepts. “We mostly focus on the basic understanding of what you’ll need to learn to become an educator,” Alvarez said. “Things like classroom management, how to create lesson plans, child development, that kind of thing.” Senior Kori Matlock is part of the culinary


nother career program available to students is the Northland Center for Advanced Professional Studies (NCAPS) program. While the NCC and NCAPS programs are relatively similar, there are some differences between the two. “They’re both off-campus programs,” school counselor Mallory Parra said. “The offerings at each one is a little different. NCAPS has an internship, always second semester, which could be anywhere in the metro area. NCC has different partnerships with different businesses.” Junior Macy Attebery is in the global business and logistics program at NCAPS. “I’ve been learning about marketing and doing marketing projects before my internship in the

arts program at NCC. Matlock has learned about restaurant management and graphic design for menus. She also has created multiple meals for school board members to enjoy and typically program participants will also sell the food they make to students of NCC. “I have dismantled a turkey for Thanksgiving,” Matlock said. “I learned how to do that, I’ve never known how to do that. I learned how to debone chicken and learned how to use fryers.” While they are in different programs, both said NCC provided them with opportunities that would not have otherwise been available to them. Alvarez has gotten ahead in her teaching internship hours. “By the time I graduate from NCC next semester, I will have 380 hours of internship,” Alvarez said. “It’s a lot; it’s definitely given me a head start.” Matlock also said her new skills would be valuable in a culinary profession. “It teaches working with others and doing different positions even if you don’t like that position necessarily,” Matlock said. Those in the program are off campus half of the school day working on developing professional skills and exploring their chosen field. spring,” Attebery said. Attebery will be interning with a lawyer, as she hopes to become a lawyer in the future. The main distinction between the programs is the focus. “NCAPS, the benefit they feel is creating professional students,” Parra said. “They go over resume writing, etiquette in the workforce, professional dress with career training as well. NCC focuses on actual career exploration.” If students are seeking hands-on career experience, NCC would be the program to consider. If learning professional skills alongside an internship in a career seems beneficial, the NCAPS program may be something to look into. Written by Elyse Bredfeldt Graphics by Cassie Ford

Talon Issue 2 Volume 14 Feature


FIGHTING Northtown Speaks Against Book Ban



orth Kansas City High School students believed the district’s removal of two library books was against policy and wanted to do something about it. Students filled spots to speak to the board during the meeting Nov. 22. Visit to read or watch the other speeches.

Lynh Nguyen, 12

When I first read Fences, it was one of the most lifechanging books for me. Even though the book discusses the African-American identity, I could emotionally relate to the literature piece because I was also a Person-of-Color. These literature pieces offer a voice for me, the Asian Student Union, People of Color, and marginalized groups. These pieces offer a voice that historically wasn’t there before. Banning books is the means by which dictators and totalitarian governments convince masses of their truths when you eliminate information, it can not be used to justify a point of view and thus no opposing argument can be made. This is even more dangerous, as sheltering inevitably breeds ignorance.

12 12

Talon Issue 2 Volume 14 News

Charles Moloney, 12

The Northland Parents Association has become a prevalent force at our school board meetings. I have seen them disrupt and ridicule our administration and pursue legal action with our schools. They claim the attempts to censor these books is to protect our youth, as the exposal to explicit or taboo content is desensitizing or grooming us to such acts. They’ve made the baseless claim that the district’s emphasis on diversity has pulled us away from a proper education. This is not the first time an organization has attempted to compromise the integrity of our education, and I’m certain it won’t be the last. The students of this district, the learning majority, will continue to fight for the quality learning experience we deserve, and on this, we stand together.



District Removed Books, Reverses Decision


or the first time in district history, officials mandated that all North Kansas City School District high schools pull two books from the shelves of their libraries. North Kansas City School District board meeting Oct. 26, James Richmond, president of The Northland Parent Association, read what he considered offensive passages from two books and presented a list of 25 books the group wanted removed from North Kansas City schools. The board mandated removal of “All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir Manifesto” and “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic.” Oct. 28. In doing so, the district bypassed the formal process of withdrawing books from school libraries. “When they asked us to remove the books, I said that I disagreed with that,” Library Media Specialist Elizabeth Ferguson said. “We have a procedure in place that says the books would stay on the shelf, and since I refused to pull them, they sent someone over and took one of the books, ‘All Boys Aren’t Blue’ from the library.” Board President Jan Kauk said the books were removed so the administration could take a look at the concerns, consider the policies and

make a decision about what action should be taken going forward. “We believed that was the right thing to do,” Kauk said. “We had to look at our policies and our practices, and we always have to make sure that we follow our protocol. We realized, in this case, we had some conflicting protocols.”

“I DON’T THINK THAT WE SHOULD ONLY GIVE PEOPLE WHAT IS EASY TO DIGEST WITH THESE BOOKS.” JAY SCHMIDTLEIN, 12 Kauk said the district had a policy allowing an administrator to pull a book for review before taking action, and other policies indicated they would remain in circulation until district procedures determined they should be removed. Senior Jay Schmidtlein said “Fun House” shouldn’t be deemed inappropriate or explicit for high school readers.

“I have read books with explicit heterosexual sex that came from our school’s library, and it has never received any complaints as far as I know,” Schmidtlein said. “I get how since it is a graphic novel it is explicitly showing it, however, it’s not fair that it’s being targeted because it is two women and not a man and a woman.” On Nov.19, the district reversed the ban, sending an email addressing the error they made by removing the books without following protocol, and said they would be returned to shelves Nov. 22. “After further looking at it and listening and hearing the student’s presentations and considering all points, we felt it was important to bring them back,” Kauk said. The following board meeting also Nov. 22, students from North Kansas City High School spoke out and presented their cases about the book removal. District administration saw flaws within the book removal process and discussed how they will approach the situation going forward. Written by Cassie Ford Photos by Cassie Ford

Talon Issue 2 Volume 14 News Talon Issue 2 Volume 14 Feature

13 13


District Lifts Indoor Mask Requirements After Break



ven after many Kansas City suburbs made masks optional, the North Kansas City School District kept the mandate in place due to the city mandate. But a mandate for the city of Kansas City, MO., was set to expire after winter break, and the district Dec. 8 that after Winter Break masks would become optional inside buildings but still required on buses. Superintendent Dan Clemens Ed.D said the decision was based on the policy in place for pandemics which states that the district will follow local and county health guidelines. “We have a policy that indicates that we will follow local and county health guidelines if there is a pandemic going on,” Clemens said. Clemens said the district works with Executive Director of Services

Talon Issue 2 Volume 14 News

Perry Hilvitz Ed.D who manages contact tracing and case numbers in the district. Additionally, he said he communicates with other school districts, and they discuss the decisions together. “I’m always working with Liberty and Park Hill and Kearney and Platte County,” Clemens said. “We’re all in conversation, and we’re all in similar places around masking.” Clemens expressed concern over the spread of the COVID-19 after the removal of the mandate. He said that if cases rise noticeably, they will reevaluate the decision. “If we start to see that we’ll have to get back together to make a decision about masking,” Clemens said. As schools are one of the last locations to still require masks, students have mixed opinions

on the removal of the mandate. With nearly 2,000 students, safety concerns have arisen. Sophomore Eliana Hensley said that despite the vaccine being available, she still felt that removing the mask mandate is unsafe. “COVID is still here, and if we don't wear masks or get vaccinated it could still get worse because no one has pure immunity to it, even with the vaccine,” Hensley said. Besides concerns about physical well-being, anxiety about the virus has also impacted the mental well-being of students. Students like freshman Lainey Fischer have struggled with virus anxiety. Fischer said the removal of the mandate may cause that anxiety to arise for other students.

“Last year I went virtual due to anxiety about the virus and just school in general,” Fischer said. “Those feelings of switching to virtual might be coming back to some students after the new mandate.” While some students feel removing the mask requirement is a risky decision to make, there are others who believe it’s a positive change. Senior Joshua Mormino said students are aware of risks and that they should have the option to decide whether to wear a mask. “I agree with the district's decision,” Mormino said. “I

feel that kids now know the risks to being unmasked and unvaccinated. We should be able to choose whether or not we wear masks. I personally can't wait; I really missed seeing everyone's faces.” Senior Selena Escutia also said that the removal of the mask mandate will be beneficial socially. “I want to be able to see my peers' full faces before I graduate and never see them,” Escutia said. ”I want to have normal high school before it's over.” Despite mixed opinions from the student body, Clemens said


he appreciated the way students have handled the challenges of the pandemic. “I’m really, really proud of our kids,” Clemens said. We’ve asked them to mask for like 20months and our students have done a phenomenal job for the most part. Our students have done a good job of doing what they need to do so that we can stay in school.” Written by Elyse Bredfeldt Photo Illustration by Cassie Ford Graphics by Cassie Ford

Students Reflect On Masks Being Optional *Survey of 189 students

33.9% of

students disagree with the district’s decision

42.3% of 51.3% of students will 48.7% of students will

continue to wear masks with it being optional

not continue to wear masks with it being optional

students agree with the district’s decision

23.8% of

students didn’t have strong feelings either way Talon Issue 2 Volume 14 News




Hand Signal Helps In Dangerous Situations



hen trapped in a dangerous situation such as domestic violence, human trafficking or kidnapping, there is hand sign that can be used a discreet signal to get help. With people stuck in lockdown during the beginning of the pandemic, the sign was created by the Canadian Women’s Foundation as a means to alert others that a person was not in a position to help themselves. At first, people were using the signal during video calls, but it has since adapted to other times where help was needed – including leading to the rescue of an abducted teen. “The first time I ever saw it was on TikTok awhile ago,” freshman Aly-Marie Montes said. “Some girl was doing it, and people in the comments were talking about whether or not she needed help.” The signal has been shared on social media, more specifically TikTok, and a missing 16-year-old North Carolina girl was rescued from her captor in Kentucky after flashing the sign out the window to a passing car. A driver recognized the signal from TikTok and called 911. The gesture helped return the girl to her family and led to the arrest of her alleged kidnapper. Freshman Alexandra Mackey believes the hand signal is helpful. “It would help a lot if someone is being abused, and the abuser is near them because they can do the signal,” said Mackey. To signal for help, place palm outward, fold thumb into palm and fold fingers over thumb. The signal can be used by all people. School resource deputy Zack Bayless said the hand signal could really help teens. “For a nonverbal signal like

Talon Issue 2 Volume 14 News

that, it would be great because a lot of people are afraid to speak out,” Bayless said. “If the person who’s abusing you is standing right next to you, you don’t want to be like, ‘Hey, they’re abusing me,’ so a quick hand signal is great.” Bayless has experience in helping domestic violence victims, including a woman without housing. “It was a little bit different of a situation, but we got them into a women’s shelter, and she was able to find some resources there and get out of the situation,” Bayless said. While the hand signal is meant to alert that someone is in danger, it doesn’t mean to immediately call police. The Canadian Women’s Foundation suggested reaching out to the individual if that’s an option and asking them what type of help they want or need, unless they are in immediate danger. Sometimes, the person might just want someone to know their situation and need someone to talk to. Bayless said the best way to prevent domestic violence is awareness. “So the abusers and the attackers know that we are watching out for them, and there should be severe consequences,” Bayless said. “And also to help the victims and survivors know that there are resources and people there to help them.” The hand signal can help someone without leaving a trace. It’s not a text message or phone call that an abuser might find and can get people out of violent and dangerous situations. Written by Fallyn Kowalski Graphics by Grace Winkler


Place palm outward


Fold thumb into palm


Fold fingers over thumb

GUIDE TO LETTER ACADEMICALLY Scholars Can Earn Academic Letters

Graphics by Cassie Ford Must be a sophomore, junior or senior

Must have at least a 3.5 GPA, with no grade lower than a B for two consecutive semesters

Must be at Staley for a full semester if you are a transfer student

SOPHOMORE JUNIOR SENIOR Must be a full-time student

Complete 10 hours of community service

Must have a 95% attendance or better


Talon Issue 2 Volume 14 News


Comes To Town

Mahomes’ Favorite Burger Joint Makes Way To K.C.


Talon Issue 2 Volume 14 Opinion


riginally a chain restaurant from the south, Whataburger has made its way to the Kansas City Metro Area, with Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes requesting the restaurant from his hometown. The first location opened Nov. 15 in Lee’s Summit, Mo., and broke the opening day sale record for the franchise. The Northland’s Whataburger will be built in the Metro North area near T-Shotz and is supposed to be under construction within a year. The new restaurant has brought excitement to the community.

While being well known for their delicious shakes and fries, a less well-known fact is Whataburger’s secret menu. While the secret menu items are not available at the new restaurants yet while the workers are trained, it’s one of the customers’ favorite parts of the experience. However, there is still quite a selection. Written by Cassie Ford Photos by Humberto Bermudez Graphics by Cassie Ford

Patty Melt Meal: $11.88 The Patty Melt tastes like a burger but better. They put creamy pepper sauce on both ends of their Texas Toast bread and smash the patties in between them with Monterey Jack cheese. Onions usually come on the sandwich but I asked for it without and it still tasted delicious. The sauce and the bread made a difference. To top off the meal, the chocolate shake and fries were to die for. The shake was smooth and the fries were salty.

Honey BBQ Chicken Strip-It Sandwich Meal: $11.88 While Whataburger has tasty patties, they also have a good chicken selection. Their Honey BBQ Chicken sandwich, a secret menu item, has made it onto the actual menu. It uses chicken strips instead of one big chicken patty, making it easier to eat. The only downside is that they don’t put a lot of the BBQ sauce on the sandwich, so ask for extra if you like a lot of sauce. The Texas Toast instead of the traditional bun makes a big difference in the taste as well.

Whataburger Burger Meal: $8.09


It was a good burger, but there were some critiques I had. The burger didn’t originally come with cheese, making the sandwich a bit dry. There was almost no sauce on the burger, but a lot of vegetables with an overwhelming taste of onions. If you’re not an onion fan, I’d ask for no onions. The meat itself was very enjoyable but was a bit disappointing due to the other factors. However, the burger was decent overall, though I preferred other items on the menu.

Talon Issue 2 Volume 14 Opinion


OWN OWNYOUR YOURWORDS WORDS Artists Get Rights For Their Music

Written by Brianne Tremper Graphics by Brianne Tremper, Cassie Ford


hether artists own the rights to their own music has become a popular topic, with leaders in the movement being, Frank Ocean and Taylor Swift, to name a couple. The artists either have control or are wanting control of their masters -- the original copy of the music. The owner of the master is able to rerelease songs as well as control the financial profit coming from the records. Most masters are owned by record companies and are able to be sold from company to company, according to Popsugar. It’s important to artists that they get the chance to own their own catalogue.

Frank Ocean



Ocean began his career with Def Jam records, but in 2016 Ocean was released from his contract early. It is not publicly known why he left. A year after ending his contract with Def Jam, Ocean had the opportunity in 2017 to purchase back all of his masters. In a Tumblr post, Ocean wrote “I bought all my masters back last year in the prime of my career, that’s successful.”


Talon Issue 2 Volume 14 Opinion

Taylor Swift


ome artists may not be able to purchase back their masters. Big Machine Records was the original record company Swift signed with at age 16. When Big Machine Records was sold to Scooter Braun, Swift made a Twitter post saying he didn’t give her the creative freedom she wanted. In this shift of power, her masters were sold with the stipulation that they couldn’t be sold back to her. On April 9, Swift began rereleasing her old music. In a Tweet, Swift said, “I know this will diminish the value of my old masters, but I hope that you will understand that this is my only way of regaining the sense of pride I once had.” She is legally allowed to re-record all of her music as long as it was recorded more than five years ago.


The Rover Led Zeppelin

Original Or Not? Band Rising In Popularity Sparks Debate



musical journey started with me listening to Radio Disney and pop music. By fifth grade, I had begun listening to Kiss and Lynyrd Skynyrd, which opened my musical world to classic rock. This quickly became my most listened to genre, with Led Zeppelin becoming one of my favorite bands. Fast forward to 2017: I learned of a new band named Greta Van Fleet from Instagram ads and my mom. When I initially listened to them, I remember thinking to myself, “Is this a forgotten Led Zeppelin song?” Excited about this new band, I supported them until the release of their debut album in 2018, which did not go over well with critics. I enjoyed the debut “Anthem of the Peaceful Army,” but Pitchfork and Anthony Fantano of theneedledrop both gave the album very negative reviews, which honestly made me stop listening out of embarrassment. However, come 2021 with Greta Van Fleet releasing a new album,

I decided to give them another shot. I listened to their early work again and was surprised at how well I remembered and liked the songs and realized they are my guilty pleasure. But a band I like shouldn’t have to be a guilty pleasure. People should be able to enjoy any music they want. With that being said, there are valid criticisms of the similarities between Led Zeppelin and GVF. For example, on GVF’s 2017 EP “From the Fires,’’ the song “Highway Tune’’ sounds like a slightly faster version of Led Zeppelin’s 1975 song “The Rover.” Josh Kiszka of GVF sounds a lot like Zeppelin’s Robert Plant on their first two efforts as well. Pitchfork described GVF as “the cheapest high in music,” in regard to the Zeppelin nostalgia they conjure up. That’s a valid description of what it is like to listen to their first EP and debut album for classic rock fans, but it also doesn’t have to be a negative thing, especially since the band has grown and matured. As they matured, they started to develop their own sound, and the Zeppelin influence isn’t as strong anymore. On 2021’s “The Battle at Garden’s Gate,” they take on more

Highway Tune Greta Van Fleet

Rush influence than the Zeppelin sound that was prevalent in their first two releases. The most popular criticism of GVF is how they “rip off” Zeppelin. This criticism isn’t that valid though, as Zeppelin fans know some of their most popular songs are either covers or considered rip offs from other artists. “You Shook Me” and “Stairway to Heaven’’ are just a couple of examples of Zeppelin songs that resulted in lawsuits. Ultimately, people should be able to enjoy whatever type of music they want. It’s OK if bands wear their influences on their sleeves while they’re developing their own sound. Written by Charlie Warner Photo by Charlie Warner Graphics by Grace Winkler

Talon Issue 2 Volume 14 Opinion


s a m t s i r h C In s a s n a K ty i C So Much To See During Holidays


Talon Issue 2 Volume 14 Lifestyles

There is nothing to do in Kansas City.” That’s a common phrase among high schoolers. There is, in fact, a lot to do around the city, especially during the holiday season. From the Country Club Plaza to Union Station, there are a plethora of festive activities to bring about holiday cheer. A highlight of Kansas City’s scenery is the Country Club Plaza – a charming area of the city anytime of the year, but during the holiday season, it’s ablaze with holiday cheer at night. There is a 92-year annual tradition of lighting the Plaza lights Thanksgiving night. With multiple restaurants and stores, visitors can spend evenings at The Plaza walking around or take a carriage ride, admiring the light. Not too far up the road are Union Station and Crown Center. Union Station is decorated

for the holiday season with spotlights and wreaths outside. The inside is full of Christmas trees, garlands and wreaths, creating a warm and cozy atmosphere. Union Station also has an indoor walk-through experience, called “Holiday Reflections,” which costs $5 per ticket. Crown Center is also decorated inside and out. The outdoor area has a huge Christmas tree and a winter-themed play area for children. Crown Center, which is famous for its ice skating rink, has the Crown Center Ice Terrace. Admission is $8, and it’s $4 to rent skates. The Ice Terrace also offers rink rental for private groups. Zona Rosa has an ice skating rink this year too, open for the first time, with decorations throughout the outdoor shopping area. Another popular winter activity is to go to drive-thru light shows. Winter Magic

in Swope Park is a mile long drive-thru experience with different Christmas lights, and it boasts that it’s the longest animated light tunnel in the midwest. It is $21.25 for a car pass. Similarly, GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium has the Magic of Lights, which is another mile-plus long drivethru. A little bit different, there is a free Liberty Light Show put on by Pleasant Valley Baptist Church. This one is like a drive-in, where cars park in front of a stage that has a Christmas show synchronized to music. Both are options to see some holiday lights. There are several different events, exhibits and activities for people to get out of the house and do this holiday season. Written by Charlie Warner Photo by Charlie Warner

Talon Issue 2 Volume 14 Lifestyles




H O N O R S O CI ETY Program Offers Recognition For Artists

A “

Ashlyn Gale, 11

Bug Moorehead, 11

I am excited to collaborate with other clubs, other businesses and schools and get out there and do art.

I’m hoping to have some exhibits in

coffee shops where we can present our artwork in a group.

Kaden Leath, 12

We are going to be doing a lot of helping kids with art, and that’s what I’m personally excited for.


rt students typically make pieces for class assignments, but now they are coming together in a new honor society – National Art Honor Society – to recognize art as an academic achievement rather than just a hobby. NAHS is a nationally recognized organization for artists to produce work and create projects to help the community. “I’m very excited that art is being recognized as an honor society,” junior Eden Pfannes said. “It’s about time art gets its fair share.” The main objective of NAHS is to create projects that are artistically motivated but also to reach out to the community creatively and help people in need. This could include creating art pieces together, working with charities or working with the younger students in the district’s elementary schools. The students could also reach out to businesses to expand the reach of their art. “It is very exciting for our high-achieving school,” art teacher Manabu Takahashi said. NAHS members must remain in good standing with grades, pay dues, complete five service hours in visual arts for each year, and they must participate in at least two of the group’s activities or fundraisers. “The qualification is simple,” Takahashi said. “There are a few rules and requirements, but other than that, it’s really if you are dedicated. And if you maintain the attendance and the high grade, you’ll be OK.”

Talon Issue 2 Volume 14 Lifestyles

Art teacher Olyvia Yates said NAHS helps high-achieving artists get the recognition they deserve. “It’s an important opportunity for art students,” Yates said. “As artists, we are academic, and it’s really important for us to be recognized as so.” Takahashi said he planned for NAHS students to celebrate diversity, get involved in assemblies, do more schoolwide projects and collaborate with other student organizations. “This is a chance for art students in high school to have the opportunity to excel, not just in art but in your academic achievements,” Takahasi said. NAHS would also be an outlet to expose art students to different opportunities within the arts, such as scholarships, an exclusive annual art exhibition and the chance to have art placed in the National Art Education Association’s magazine for art teachers. At the Dec. 1 meeting, members split into different groups depending on their preferred type of project. Each group brainstormed project ideas. “It’s a big opportunity for artists in the school to improve their art and resumes,” Phfannes said. NAHS offers the chance for young artists to get their work out into the community, and the art teachers hope the group enhances creativity and exposes students to learn new concepts through art. Written by Grace Winkler Graphics by Grace Winkler

Millions discover their favorite reads on issuu every month.

Give your content the digital home it deserves. Get it to any device in seconds.