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March 28, 2014

CONFLICT ZONE Check out the center section to learn about Westside students and graduates with ties to countries in turmoil.


8701 Pacific St. Omaha, NE 68114

Volume 58 Issue 7

Seniors lead team to best finish in 10 years By James buckley Sports writer The Westside boys varsity basketball team played Bellevue West for the NSAA class A state basketball championship on March 15, 2014. Looking back on the basketball program 10 years ago, Westside was in a very similar situation. “We had beaten [Bellevue West] in the holiday tournament by 25, and they turned around and beat us in the finals [in 2004],” head coach Brian Nemecek said. “We beat them by 25 [this season] here and they beat us in the finals. Very similar seasons, as far as how they panned out.” Furthering the déjà vu, this year’s team finished 216, while the 2004 team finished 21-5. Being the fifth seed going into the tournament, the team was not expected to make it to the championship game. Furthermore, with a .500 start to the season and then a nine-game win streak, the team could have been out in the first round based on its regular season. Nemecek, who knows the team better than

anyone, had no worries about the team during the slow start. “We knew early on that it would take a little bit of time to develop some chemistry with some new guys in our programs,” Nemecek said. “We thought it would take six to eight games to get the guys comfortable playing with each other, and from that point we knew we could make a run at the title.” Despite the loss, the season would not have been what it was without the senior class. All five starters were seniors: Mike Kiger, Kevin Metoyer, Michael Herrmann, Brock Nemecek and Jake Meyers. To add to the importance of the senior class, there were two bench players with significant playing time: Jack Matt and Sam Wilkinson. Wilkinson even saved the team’s season with two free throws at the end of regulation to tie the semifinal game 54-54 before Westside won in overtime 67-63. In the tournament, the seniors led the way, with Herrmann averaging 17 points per game, Metoyer averaging 14 and Kiger averaging 13. continued on page 2




Senior basketball player Brock Nemecek hugs his father, head coach Brian Nemecek, after Westside’s loss in the state championship game Saturday, March 15. The Warriors lost to Bellevue West, 56-50. Photo by Clair Selby

LOUDER THAN A BOMB Poetry team prepares for statewide competition By Kellie WAsikowski MANAGING EDITOR “A formal letter to the Internet from the Westside poetry team.” Junior Lia Hagen triumphantly raises her hands to show her concern with different elements of the Internet. She speaks of them as if they were friends she was fighting with. “Dear Autoplay,” she says. “You came in like a wrecking ball! How dare you?” The next girl, junior Peyton Wells, prepares for her part of the piece, which four girls are reading together. “Honestly, you’re pretty bad, Tumblr,” she says. The voice jumps back to Hagen. “Dear Facebook friends,” she reads. “I played Farmville four years ago! Stop asking me to send you pigs!” The voice jumps back and forth between the other two speakers, juniors Ellie Bruckner and Lizzie West. “Dear Twitter.” “Dear illegal downloads.” “Dear bad Wi-Fi.” After the girls have collected their frustration with the personified Internet, Bruckner softly says, “A formal letter to Al Gore, from the desk of the Westside poetry team. Boy, do we have some things to tell YOU.” Three minutes after the four Poetry Club members began reading their poem, it is over. While their performance may be ready for an audience, the four girls wait for criticism from their coach, and he tells them ways to better their poem in preparation for their upcoming competition, Louder Than a Bomb. LTAB Omaha was first organized in the spring of 2012 by the Nebraska

Writer’s Collective organization. Eight schools participated in the competition the first year, including Westside’s newly formed poetry team. The team mainly consisted of freshman girls, many of whom are still a part of the team this year. Junior Lia Hagen was one of the original members, and she thinks the cohesion and relationships among the team are what keep all the members coming back each year. “For most people on the team, poetry is a way for us to express to each other how we’re feeling,” Hagen said. “We are all very close in Poetry Club, so continued on page 2

Juniors Ellie Bruckner, Peyton Wells and Lia Hagen (from left to right) perform their four-person poem in room 253 Tuesday, March 25. Photo by Estella Fox

2 March 28, 2014


POETRY: Team strives to connect slam poems to audience FACTS 2005 the year the Louder Than a Bomb documentary was released, which focused on the Chicago competition

2010 the year the Louder Than a Bomb Omaha competition started with 12 teams

32 the number of teams competing in Louder Than a Bomb Great Plains this year

3 minutes each poet gets to share his or her poem during the competition

begins, and they then judge each poem on a scale of one to 10. If a team scores high enough during each of its four bouts, it makes it to the semifinal round, and potentially the final round after that. Last year, the Westside poetry team made it to the semifinals of the competition. But since the number of schools participating in the competition this year has risen to 32, the Westside team has been doing more to prepare for the event. “This year we started on the group pieces a lot earlier,” Guenette said. “We’re putting a lot more effort into them, too, because they haven’t always been our strongest. But this year we’ve started a lot earlier, and we’re a lot more organized, too.” The team is not left to organize on its own; the Nebraska Writers’ Collective assigns each school a “teaching artist,” a mentor who has some background in writing and performance and is there to coach the teams in preparation for the competition. The teaching artist for Westside is Greg Harries, who has a background in playwriting and directing. Harries enjoys coaching the Westside poetry team because he thinks they have a very distinct voice as a team, and that ties them together. “The Westside poetry team has a really unique voice in the competition because they’re very close and tight-knit,” Harries said. “Mostly I just help them find their voice and share their stories in an effective way that’s going to bring an audience toward them, and bring them closer together.” One of the goals of LTAB is to try and get large audiences and a lot of community involvement, and Harries has been working to make the bouts more accessible for the community to view. The LTAB organization streams all of the bouts on its YouTube account so people can watch on their

home computers. “Either me or somebody else will do live commentary, updating the home viewers on the scores and the kind of strategies that the teams are employing,” Harries said. Harries thinks it is important that people from the community attend the bouts to support Westside, especially as the community involvement continues to increase. “People should come out and support Westside at their bouts,” Harries said. “A lot of the schools get really big supporter sections, and I would really like to see that for Westside too.” While LTAB is a competition, Hagen and the rest of the poetry team enjoy the community that has been formed by the event. Hagen remembers her first experience in the competition as one that really showed her the unifying elements of slam poetry. “The first year I did Louder than a Bomb, there was one Lincoln team where every time someone would read a poem and it was emotional or serious, they would yell, ‘We hear you!’” Hagen said. “And it sounds cheesy, but it was such a big thing and other people started joining in, and even though we were all competing against each other, no one disliked each other’s poetry. There’s a saying in Louder than a Bomb and slams in general that ‘The point is not the points, the point is the poetry.’” The team had its first preliminary bout on Wed. March 26, and its second preliminary bout is Wednesday, April 2 at 7:30 at the Metro Community College South Campus. Check out the Exploration issue of Craze on Westside Wired to read some of the poetry written by poetry team members.




continued from page 1 when you write and read these poems it’s sort of like another way of expressing yourself to everyone.” Personally, Hagen has tried to write poetry that is reflective of her own feelings, but that the audience is still able to connect with. Hagen thinks it is especially important to have poems that the audience can relate to, which is an essential part of slam poetry. “I’ve really started to use my own feelings to make a poem that is relatable to everyone,” Hagen said. “When you think of slam poetry often, there’s often this reputation for people crying and being really negative, but in reality, a lot of slams are fun and hilarious. I’ve learned how to make a sad, serious mix of that stuff that we want to and need to talk about, and also be able to enjoy ourselves.” Junior Ally Guenette, who has participated since the club’s creation, explains the difference between slam and written poetry. “Slam poetry is all about performance,” Guenette said. “People will use more repetition and alliteration in their poetry to make it more interesting to listen to. I really like the storytelling aspect of slam poetry too. I can just spit out a story and make it sound pretty, and then it becomes slam poetry.” Guenette thinks LTAB is the perfect forum for performing because it is an opportunity to connect with a new audience. “I’ve always liked performing, but it’s different performing in front of people you don’t know,” Guenette said. “I feel like you can really connect more with strangers, just because you don’t know what experiences they’ve had. I really like listening to poets I don’t personally know, because it makes me wonder more about what their story is.” During the LTAB competition, schools participate in a series of bouts, where four individuals from each school perform individually, and then each school also performs a group piece. Judges are selected from the audience before the bout

I really like listening to poets I don’t personally know, because it makes me wonder more about what their story is. ALLY GUENETTE poetry team member


Westside to host German Convention

Senior Kevin Metoyer dribbles past a Millard North defender in the district tournament Saturday, March 1. Metoyer was one of five starting seniors this season. Photo by Clair Selby

BASKETBALL: Seniors retire

continued from page 1 Getting ready for the tournament, the seniors realized they had to play well to succeed. “We knew that it was the last three games of our high school careers, and we knew we could get it done,” Kiger said. “We said, ‘If we’re going to do this, we need to believe and get everyone on board,’ and we all believed and stepped up.” Even though the championship didn’t go how the team wanted, with the team losing 56-50 to become the class A runner-up. The players can still look back on the season as an achievement of its own. “I think the seniors having experience, we set a higher standard for this year and the upcoming years,” Kiger said. “We accomplished a lot more than what most people thought we could, and that was great.” When reflecting on the season from the perspective of the senior class, Brock finds a silver lining through the loss. “I was pretty upset because it was the last time [having my dad coach me], but there were a lot of good memories and relationships I made, and that’s what I focus on,” Brock said.

Omaha’s German Convention has been a tradition for almost 40 years, and will continue this year as well, April 5 at Westside. Previously, it has been held at the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO), the University of Nebraska Lincoln (UNL) or other high schools. The main goal of this event is to let students expand their knowledge and connect with others. There are multiple activities and competitions held at the convention, including a cake competition, “Pass Auf” (Jeopardy), and poetry writing and recitation. “[German Convention] is a way for them to have a day just to enjoy some different things,” German instructor Michael Bendorf said. “There are also competition elements on different levels, from middle school age to [high school] seniors. Also, it’s a fun way for them to meet other people speaking the same language in different parts of the city that they’ve never met.” This event is only open to German students. Because of this, another goal of German Convention is to try and encourage more students to join German, and to persuade more people to explore the German culture.

Latin students to travel to Europe During spring break of this year, language instructors Liz Mawhiney, Katie Claus and Sarah Percival are taking stu-

dents on the Latin trip to Greece and Italy. These 17 students will visit popular landmarks and ancient sites. In Greece, the group will go to ancient sites in Delphi, Athens and the Greek Islands. Afterwards, they will be riding an overnight ferry across the Mediterranean Sea to Italy. Upon arriving in Italy, they will visit Pompeii, the Roman Forum, The Colosseum and the Vatican. “This is the second Latin trip that has been offered since I have [worked] here,” Mawhiney said. “I also led a trip to Italy in 2012.” There is an enormous amount of history behind the Latin language, which will be explored more in the future by our own students.

Conference to empower young black women to be held at Metro

The Young Gifted Black Girls (YGBG) at Metropolitan Community College March 28 is holding an all-day conference for young black women in grades 10-12 with at least a 2.5 GPA. The conference offers many lessons and tips for empowering young black girls, such as financial literacy, sexual health and awareness, and tips from college students about their experiences in college. “This conference is a great opportunity to gain experience outside of the academic setting,” guidance counselor Melissa Hansen said. “It inspires people to go to college and reach their ambitions.” The conference will be held by Fredrecka McGlown, and Dr. Nikita Harris. McGlown started traveling the world at a young age to help students, and Harris received a Ph.D. and mentors young men and women at Columbus State University.

Briefs by Abby Coen-Taylor



March 28, 2014 3

Debaters qualify for nationals in spite of losing coach By Connor FLairty news EDITOR Last year at the district debate tournament, the debate team was eager



WE’re going to prove that We’re still Westside debate and that we’re still a good team. Eric MCatee debate team member

Senior Reneé Stewart reads her first affirmative construction Friday, March 7 at the national qualifying debate Tournament at Lincoln East High School. Stewart is a senior member of the debtate team who joined her sophomore year. Photo by Estella Fox


Redesigned standardized testing to come into effect in spring of 2016 NATA WARD FEATURE EDITOR

USA Today, the changes came

The 2016 SAT will have several changes on it, including the use of computers for testing. Graphic by Sarah Lemke

4 March 28, 2014 the



The Lance is a schoolsponsored publication of Westside High School, Westside Community Schools, 8701 Pacific St., Omaha, NE 68144. The Lance office is located in room 251. Phone: (402) 3432650. The Lance is an in-house publication. The paper is distributed every month to all students, except in vacation periods. Subscription rates to others are $25 prepaid. The Lance is printed by White Wolf Web, in Sheldon, IA. Advertising rates are available upon request. The Lance editorial staff reserves the right to edit all ads for clarity and grammatical errors. The editorial staff reserves the right not to publish any ads that are libelous or that contain nonfactual information. The Lance editorial staff also reserves the right to nullify contracts at any time without prior notification. The Lance also refuses ads that promote activities illegal to a majority of the student readership. Reader response is welcomed in the form of letters to the editor. Letters should be less than 300 words, signed by the author and sent to room 251. Names may be withheld upon special request. Lance editors will decide whether to honor such requests. The Lance editorial staff reserves the right to edit letters for clarity and grammatical errors. The editorial staff also reserves the right to not publish any letters that are libelous or that contain non-factual information. The Lance is a member of the Nebraska High School Press Association, the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, the National Scholastic Press Association and the Quill & Scroll Society. The Lance staff recognizes that the administration of Westside Community Schools controls the curriculum and, thus, sets the parameters of the production process of school publications. The Lance staff also recognizes its own responsibilities to inform, enlighten and entertain its readers in a way that reflects high standards of journalism, morals and ethics. Editors-in-Chief Emma Johanningsmeier, Aren Rendell; Managing Editors Estella Fox, Tom Schueneman, Kellie Wasikowski; Design Editor Allie Laing; News Editors Connor Flairty, Phoebe Placzek; Feature Editors Grace Fogland, Nata Ward; Sports Editor Tim Graves; Arts & Entertainment Editor Jace Wieseler; Cartoonist Doug Flakes; Staff Writers Abby Coen-Taylor, Elise Tucker, Libby Seline; Sports Writers James Buckley, Jack Cohen; Photo Editor Sarah Lemke; Photo Staff Jakob Phillips; Adviser Jerred Zegelis.


SAT changes not enough, overhaul necessary The way a society educates its youth reflects that society on a very fundamental level. In the 1930s, for instance, American education focused less on vocational studies, in order to keep young people out of a workforce that the economy couldn’t support. Today, American education, much like American society in general, is characterized by extreme inequality — indeed, inequality in education is one of the many causes for the wider economic inequality that exists in America. It’s not hard to identify the issues in modern American education, but fixing them is a much more difficult proposition. The problems modern education faces are structural, not superficial. Nothing short of a reevaluation of the way society looks at education will address these problems. It may seem like a tall order, but it’s been done before. But a recent announcement by one of the institutions that in the past has been at the forefront of academic development is emblematic of the ineffective, surface-deep efforts to reform the education system, and in many ways is part of the problem. The College Board recently unveiled plans to change the SAT for 2016, to make the test better serve its intended purpose of indicating how students will do in college. This all sounds good in theory, but improving the SAT’s ability to indicate college aptitude is a bit like improving the ability of a birdhouse to do the same. It’s simply not possible to get an accurate picture of a student’s academic capabilities in only 170 questions. It turns out, perhaps unsurprisingly, that the best indicator of future academic performance is past academic performance, according to William Hiss, former Dean of Admissions at Bates College. While the SAT is an infamously long test, its three and a half hours offer only a snapshot of the academic lives of the students who take it. The importance of the SAT, and standardized testing in general, in the college admissions process far outweighs tests’ actual usefulness in assessing college aptitude. But this isn’t merely an ineffective practice — it’s a downright damaging one. Because such importance is concentrated on a single event, that test becomes the focal point of the admissions process. This inevitably invites far more pressure than is actually present in a college environment, further skewing the results. There are, of course, some col-

What will you do for

I’m going to make my brother a sandwich and put glue in it. Richie Porras freshman

Graphic by Doug Flakes

leges and universities at which this level of competition is normal, but these are the exception, not the rule. Most college students will have very different experiences, which the extreme competition of the SAT will not reflect. As a result, the SAT has become merely a measurement of how well students perform on the SAT, rather than an indicator of actual college aptitude. Because of this, students end up devoting significant effort to doing well on the SAT, even though success on the test will have little bearing on their lives once they’re done with the college admissions process. The problem is amplified, however, by the fact that this inane competition is not being held on an even playing field. With so much at stake, students do whatever they can to do well on the test, and those with money can do more than others. Test prep is estimated to be an $840 million a year industry, and with such demand, test prep services can come at a considerable price, often more than the majority of students can afford. Those who can’t are at a significant disadvantage. The sad irony is that this is exactly the sort of inequality the SAT was originally designed to do away with. At the time of its inception, in the height of the Progressive era, connections were the most important factors in admissions at many of America’s most elite universities. Education pioneer James Bryant Conant adopted an early predecessor of the modern SAT developed by Princeton psychology professor Carl Brigham in order to assess scholarship candidates at Harvard University based on merit rather than wealth. But it’s become increasingly clear that success on the SAT can be bought. Rather than determining how well suited students are to higher education, it simply indicates their ability to do well on a single test, which too often is determined by how much students have spent in preparing for it. This new series of changes may make the test more relevant to college, but ultimately the idea behind the test itself is flawed, and has become counter-productive given its original purpose. These changes only address the most cosmetic of issues with modern American education. Addressing them adequately will require a change just as revolutionary as the concept of standardized testing was in 1926, when the SAT was first administered.

april fool’s day?

Nothing. [The prank is] I’m going to switch I’ll cut off the top of a too easily given away. classes with my brother. deodorant stick and replace it with cream Jared andrews chris ramsey cheese. junior sophomore aaron murray senior

March 28, 2014 5


FRIENDZONE Preoccupied with relationships, teens miss what matters Graphic by Allie Laing

Perhaps one of the most popular concepts amongst teenagers today is that of the “friendzone.” As most of us know, the term is generally used to describe relationships where one person would like to be romantically involved and the other would not. Lia hagen The more I thought Guest columnist about this concept, the more interesting it became to me. As time went on, I began to realize just how vague and abstract it is. It seemed to me that people just used it to feed victim complexes or to make excuses about why they were rejected. With this in mind, I decided to devise a test for when you can say you were friendzoned. The test aimed to avoid the problems with the term that I’d been observing. It’s a simple test that goes something like this: Just don’t say it. Here’s an example of the test in action. Let’s just say that you meet a nice girl. She’s nice, she’s pretty, and she’s completely single. You two start to talk and hang out. You eventually tell her that you like her, and she tells you that she would just like to be friends. Were you friendzoned? No. You just tried to relationshipzone someone, and they refused. I think this sort of misunderstanding is one of the main sources of the problems with the term. Let’s get something clear. I understand the frustration that comes with rejection, but if you’re only friends with someone in the hopes of getting a date with them, you’re not their friend at all. You’re just being kind of selfish, and honestly, I don’t know why. It’s one thing to want a relationship with someone. Being a teenage girl, I understand that quite well. It’s an entirely different thing to disrespect a friendship because you think a relationship would be better. Some teens can’t seem to wrap their minds around the concept of just friends being a good thing. We whine about the friendzone or act like the only thing that could possibly make us happy would be a relationship. We persist in believing this despite all of the evidence to the contrary. No matter how many breakups we experience, no matter how many times we see our friends cry over their significant others, we still seek out relationships over all else. In reality, there is no such thing as being “more than friends” with someone because there’s no reason why dating someone is inherently better than just hanging out with them. True, being with someone romantically generally comes with kissing and fun dates, but there’s something to be said for platonic relationships as well. For one, they do tend to last longer. We’ve all seen couples that are in love with each other one minute and complete strangers the next. Friendships can, of course, be filled with drama, but it’s much more difficult to cut off ties with a friend than a boyfriend or girlfriend. Your friends are generally willing to wait for the storm to pass. Honestly, I’m much more grateful for my friends than I ever have been for the people that I’ve dated. Friends are what have made my high school experience what it is. They’re the ones who take it upon themselves to cheer me up when I’m upset. They help me study when we feel like it and distract me when we don’t. All of my best memories are of hanging out with my friend group, even if we were only sitting in a car and talking. That’s why, when I think of my exes, I don’t remember dates or kisses. I don’t get sad about what was or what could’ve been, and I certainly don’t lament about being “just friends.” If anything, I take that as an upgrade. Instead, I remember how much fun we had together. I remember laughing and talking and acting like — well, acting like friends. If you don’t, well, that’s your loss.

School should create critical readers, thinkers “To my children and grandchildren, lest they never even discover.” I read something like that on the dedication page of a European history book last year, and it really hit home. Rather than sticking to the standard Google search I knew most of my classmates were using for our informal AP Euro presentations, I had decided to consult books at the UNO library in an attempt to meet Mrs. Gangel’s high EMMA JOHANNINGSMEIER standards. Editor-IN-CHIEF And I had been astonished. Here, within these pages, was everything I needed to craft a perfect presentation: concrete, relevant, interesting information. Reading and taking notes didn’t take much more time than it would have to whip something up from Internet search results. The next day in class, I had far and away the best information, and best of all, I actually understood it. Why was I surprised? I don’t know. I grew up reading, and I read for pleasure. Still, when it came to assignments, I, like most students, was in the habit of just Googling. What if I had been one of the ones who “never even discover” what these books contain? Looking around at my classmates, I wondered if the man who wrote that dedication several decades ago knew how meaningful it would one day be. Over the past year, I’ve contemplated his words often. I thought of them last month as I was walking through the high school library and noticed some books I’d never seen before. Shakespeare. Tennyson. Books about Shakespeare and Tennyson. And NASCAR racing. And everything in between. Intrigued, I checked out some books at random, thinking I’d write a column about what a great selection of books our school library has. This column became about something else when I opened the books and saw that I was only the first or second person to check most of them out. At first I thought, Wow, that’s really sad. But after pondering it, I realized how much sense it made. As relevant to course material as many of these books are, most students have little reason to consult them. It’s possible to avoid using textbooks much of the time, too. Why would students bother to take advantage of the wealth of thorough information books offer when minimal critical thinking is often all it takes to get an A? Whenever I have a list of questions to answer for AP Bio, I can see what other people have said about them on Yahoo Answers. They’re invariably posted there. I once aced an AP Gov final by memorizing questions I found on the Internet – the same questions that were on the actual test. And Wikipedia is always there for me. I’m sure kids at other schools use similar resources, but we’re

special. Westside has given us MacBooks to use and encouraged teachers to integrate technology into their classrooms, and in many ways, it’s a brilliant idea. It allows teachers to use a “flipped classroom” if they want and contact students easily. I know it makes student journalism much easier. But despite the many benefits, I have serious reservations about a program that also hands students the tools with which to fake their way through so much of school. There’s no way doing this will serve us well in the long run, considering the number of jobs that do require critical thinking. I know students don’t always rise to high expectations if they exist, and I know teachers are often (unfortunately) caught between wanting to make learning fun, interesting and worthwhile and being under pressure to get kids ready for tests. I know they’re sometimes told to do things without being told why. Actually, most of the teacher participants in a recent Westside focus group said they wanted opportunities for more debate and divergent thinking. But when will their hopes become a reality? As much as I sympathize with the plight of public school teachers, I honestly think a lot of the teachers I’ve had could be doing more to promote critical thinking. If most students won’t willingly put in the extra effort to gain a deep understanding of course material if they don’t have to, we need to be given assignments that require us to do that — and before it’s too late. We need more classes where you can’t just Google the answers, classes where reciting the text of a website doesn’t cut it. Coming to the end of my high school years, I find myself feeling incredibly grateful to the teachers who actually made me use my brain, do research and read books, and wishing many more teachers fell into that category. Mostly, though, I’m just sorry. I’m sorry that the kids who never opened a book for Euro never experienced the joy I felt reading Petrarch’s 14th-century sonnets. I’m sorry for the kids who never got the chance to fall in love with a book they read in English class because they never read any books in English class. I’m sorry so few teachers consistently demand that high schoolers use their considerable mental abilities, and I’m sorry if they’ve been conditioned. I’m sorry that so many kids choose BS every time. Because there’s a world of information out there — interesting, real information — that is not on the Internet. Even though reading history books at the library isn’t for everyone, everyone deserves to experience at some point in their life that wonderful, wonderful feeling of accomplishment that comes with deeply understanding something academic. It’s a feeling I strongly doubt Google can ever find for you. So here’s to my friends and all future Westside students — lest they never even discover. But for their sake, I really, really hope they do.

PowerGrade A+

To Westside’s custodians. They are consistently friendly and helpful, whether it’s in the cafeteria or in the journalism hallway. We appreciate all the work they put in to keep Westside High School clean and pleasant.


To the late-start days this spring. While taking state tests is a pain for juniors, having time to sleep in, enjoy a nice leisurely breakfast or finish up homework is incredibly nice for everyone else. We only wish school could start at 10 every day.


To the fact that Prom is scheduled for the same weekend as DECA nationals, which is also the weekend before AP tests begin. While we understand a huge event like this is difficult and complicated to schedule, other schools manage to have their dances at more convenient times.

6 March 28, 2014



Student selected for UN delegate position By NATA WARD FEATURE EDITOR Senior Jennifer Torres stood at the United Nations Conference Building in New York. She wore a white button-down underneath the official Girl Scout uniform for ambassadors. Someone walked up to her, maybe another delegate, maybe a girl in the audience. “What is it like to live in America, where men and women are equal?” the girl asked. Torres had been selected to represent Nebraska as a delegate at the 58th Commission on the Status of Women. She and 15 other girls from around the country were in charge of working behind the scenes at the event. People would often come up to her with questions like that. “I looked at them like they were crazy because even in the United States it is not equal,” Torres said. “Some countries view us as the role model and it is important that we continue the journey towards gender equality.” The commission was a United Nations event that brought together ambassadors from many countries to discuss the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for Women and Girls. These goals were established in 2000 to empower women and advocate gender equality. Torres applied to be a delegate after a friend’s mother suggested that she apply for the position through the Girl Scouts. Although Torres was not a Girl Scout herself, she had attended their summer leadership program called Why We Lead, so C she was F J eligible. B H was havH A major influence in her selection A

ing experienced what she described as “culture shock.” Culture shock is the disorientation associated with being exposed to an unfamiliar culture or way of life. Delegates who had this experience in the past would not be overwhelmed when experiencing the different cultures at the United Nations event. “I lived in Mexico when I was younger and I have travelled last year to Spain and Europe,” Torres said. “I have been out of the country. I have seen rural to urban places, and have seen different cultures.” Before the commission, Torres did not have a specific interest in women’s rights, but the panels and the people participating in them sparked an interest in the topic for her. These factors and others made Torres’s experience a good one overall. “[It was interesting] getting the information from an actual primary source instead of hearing it from the news or the newspaper,” Torres said. Some of the most inspiring parts of the event came in the form of the speakers. Some were girls as young as 15 speaking in front of 200 ambassadors. These same girls had become full-fledged activists and started organizations in the name of their cause. The speaker who stood out most to Torres, though, was an older woman from the United States. “She said that even though her generation is handing over the torch, that we shouldn’t ever stop,” Torres said. “If we get something passed, shouldn’t just leave it at that. We should keep F J we that fire and that passion that B made us H wantDto A D that bill in the first place.” pass G



Some countries view us as the role model and it is important that we continue the journey towards gender equality. JENNIFER TORREs senior

Above: Senior Jennifer Torres and three other delegates pose while working at the 58th Commission on the Status of Women. Left: Torres stands at the podium at the United Nations Conference Building in New York. Photos courtesy of Jennifer Torres

61 C J 43 E 2 B 6 H 4 D 4 C D K A G 3 F B C G 6 J C 5 C J F 4 J E B 51 F B H 4 A H B 6 D 6 H D 2 A 4 D K A G 5 C G E G 65 C C J 3 47 F B H J J E F 5 D B K B H D 8 A G H D 4 4 C D K A J 5 A C G E G J C 9 B C J F 5 4 J H E F B 5 D F B K A B H 0 A G H H G D 6 5 C D K A 5 A G G 41 F B H J E C 1 F C J 7 5 J 3 F 5 F 3 B B 42 A G C D K H 2 H E 8 5 D 4 A J 5 3 A 3 G E F G 4 D B C K H 59 F D 4 35 F B H J C K A J 4 G E B 60 5 F B C J E 36 A G C D H 4 D J K A H G D 6 37 F B C K A J 4 H G E D 31 F B H 7 F B C J 38 A G 4 C D 2 J K A 3 F G E 8 A G H 39 B C J 4 H 3 E F 3 D B 36 A G C D K 9 F H 4 D 4 C K F J 5 D0 G 37D F B H J B EB H 3 D A K C B H 8 B J 5 H 5 4H DA KG C 3 E C D F J 54 DA G C 38 AK G B A E A H G J6 9 G B D C F C 4 J1 H K A J 5C5 JF B H 3J9 FE D F G EB H 3 F K 2 A C B 0 B J H A 5H 37 F B 4H1 F G C J E B 5H6 DA G C 4D0 K A 2D2J A G 5C1 D F KG G E C 38 A G 42 A B H D9 A K G 5C7 JF B H J J 33 DF KB H 23 F B E F 2 2 G 39D FE 3 F B C 3J0 AE B 5H8 DA G 3C4 JA EG C 2D4 A G 5H D K 4 0 K 4 JA G H 3D1 FK G 5C9 JF 3H5 DF KB H 2J5 F B C J E C 4 J 4 E B C J2 6H0 D 3C6 JA EG C 2D6 A G H D KB H D K E H5 DF G 4 A 3 B J A C G H B J C G D 7 F 6 G 3H7 DF KB C F 3 K 2 B H B D6 3H1 F B H J FE B 4C 7 JA G C 3 J4 F B G 8 A 3 3C8 JA E G A 2 C G J7 32 A G C 2D2 AK G 4H 8 DF B H 3 5 A B F 9 FE F H9 D 3 3 B 2 A C J 4 H 3 3 J K G E D 3 A F 6 3 D F 8 G 2 B 3 DA G C 3 0 K A C J 4 DA G H 2D4 AK B 4H9 DF E C 3 J J9 F 7 3 B F C 3 H G J 3 D 5C0 J K 5 A B C F G 2 J H B C 40 D H A B 6 17 F B H J H G A 2 D G 9 F B C J A G 2 7 18 A G C F 2 J 0 A G H D 15 F B H 3 8 19 F 2 D 1 F B C J 16 A G C 3 J 20 2 A G H D 17 F B H J J H 3 D H G 3 F B C 18 A G C D C D 3 J F G B C 19 F B J H 34 A D F 2 A B 2 0 H G Follow John on Twitter Become a JBTP A 2 D 8 A G 35 Friend on Facebook. 3 F B C J 2 1 C 2 J 9 F B 4 A G H D 2 D H 5 F B C J 10 A G C D C 2 J B 6 A G H 11 F B H J J H 2 D 2

Preparing Westside Students for the ACT and SAT for over 13 years...

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Conflict zones students, graduate discuss ties to conflicts going on around the world

in-depth design by allie laing

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Student demonstrates in Omaha, shows support for home country By kellie wasikowski MANAGING EDITOR Luisana Contreras-Delgado remembers Venezuela as a beautiful place where she spent the first few years of her life. She remembers certain places relative to her grandparents’ and dad’s houses, and the family dinners and gatherings that she went to with her big family. Contreras-Delgado said her family is really close, and Venezuelan culture puts a lot of emphasis on the importance of family. But when she was only three years old, she and her family moved to the United States, away from the corrupt Venezuelan government to a country with more freedoms. Contreras-Delgado, currently a junior at Westside, has visited Venezuela only twice since she first left, once when she was 10, and the other time about two years ago. But Contreras-Delgado is unsure if she will be able to visit again soon because of increasing political corruption. Contreras-Delgado explained the Venezuelan government’s of its people, and how the government often exploits them for votes and extorts them for property. “[The people] used to think the government was socialist,” Contreras-Delgado said. “But now they are realizing that it is a communist country with a dictator. The government right now doesn’t allow anyone to have money, too, so most people are poor. They have also told the people who live in barrillos, which are the slums of Venezuela, that they’ll give them healthcare and money every month in exchange for their votes.” The government manipulation has affected ContrerasDelgado’s immediate family.

Her grandparents used to own a small business and farm in Venezuela, but the Chazistas, a political group that supported late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, raided their business and took it away from them, and also took away their farm. Contreras-Delgado said the government uses propaganda to try and tell the rest of the world that there is no conflict in the country right now. “What has been happening is that lies have just been fed to the people,” Contreras-Delgado said. “And they’ve been believing all these lies that have come from the president. So I think the most important thing we can learn is the truth.” Just like Contreras-Delgado, Venezuelan youth also know the importance of exposing the truth on the world stage. February 12, 2014, Venezuelans took to the streets for National Youth Day to protest the corrupt government. But the students did not stop after National Youth Day; they have continued to protest, and pledged to keep protesting until change is achieved. “All they have is their own signs, and they are wearing white t-shirts which represent peace,” Contreras-Delgado said. “They’re just doing a peaceful protest and trying to get their voices heard.” The government opposition and protestors eventually want to oust the current leaders, and institute a new democratic government in its place. “Basically all of my family is in these protests and marches,” Contreras-Delgado said. “I asked my mom, ‘If you wouldn’t have had me or my little brother and you still lived in Venezuela, would you be out protesting right now?’ And she

told me, ‘Of course!’ There’s no doubt in her mind that it could be really dangerous, but she’d rather fight for her country.” Protestors have been using social media to spread the news about what is happening in Venezuela, in hopes of exposing the government. But due to government censorship, there is no guarantee that these social outlets will be available in the near future. “Some social media sites have been getting shut down by the Venezuelan government,” Contreras-Delgado said. “The only media that has consistently been getting across to Venezuelans is the government media, which is saying that nothing bad is happening in Venezuela. Twitter and different news media websites have been shut down and censored.” Right now, Contreras-Delgado and her family rely on Facebook to stay connected with family members in Venezuela. She said her grandparents don’t like to talk on the phone often because they believe the government is listening in on their phone calls. Even though ContrerasDelgado can’t be in Venezuela participate in the protests, she has gone to protests in Omaha to align themselves with Venezuela. “On Sunday, Feb. 23, there was a huge group of Venezuelans from the Omaha community that gathered at 72nd and Dodge,” Contreras-Delgado said. “We just supported Venezuela from Omaha with signs and flags to show our support. I don’t think it matters where you live, as long as you’re aware of what is happening in Venezuela and you’re trying to do something about it. Even if you’re far away, you’re letting people know that you support Venezuela, and it’s helping.”


Junior worries about father, By Aren rendell editor-in-chief From over 5,000 miles away, junior Oleg Biletsky worries about his father daily. His father took part in what were originally peaceful protests in Kiev, Ukraine, but during the height of the protests in late February, the situation became violent. Now, after Ukrainians ousted former president Viktor Yanukovych, some of the protesting has turned toward the Russian military occupation of the southeastern Ukrainian region of Crimea. For Biletsky, this could mean having his father go to war. “I do think that if a real war breaks out my dad will go volunteer, so [his safety] does come to my mind,” Biletsky said. Biletsky lives in Omaha with his mother Olga Biletsky, who won the green card lottery in 1997 to get the chance to come to the United States. Olga said she moved to the United States because the democratic life of the United States creates a better life, and jobs and education are easier to find than in Ukraine. But now, the protests in which Oleg’s father is participating are aiming to bring many of these advantages to Ukraine. “My dad protests along with Ukrainians that want a better life, like a European life,” Oleg said. “Ukrainians see that in Europe they are living much better.” In addition to her ex-husband — Oleg’s father —Olga has other family and friends involved in the protests. She said


feb. 11, 2011 : EGYPT

July 3, 2013 : EGYPT

Chavez’s political reign is protested, military coup is attempted, returns to power two days later.

Mubarak steps down after protests continue despite concessions.

Morsi deposed by military after Islamist policies prove unpopular with secular revolutionaries and military.

Jan. 25, 2011 : EGYPT

June 24, 2012 : EGYPT

2013 : venezuela

Thousands of protestors gather in Cairo for “Day of Revolt” against president Hosni Mubarak.

Mohammed Morsi is elected the first President under the new constitution.

Hugo Chavez dies, replaced by Vice President Nicolas Maduro, candidate of the United Socialist Party.

MARCH 28, 2014 9


war in eastern Europe she is proud of Oleg’s father for trying to create change, and called his actions “a good example for Oleg.” “I’m glad that he’s involved, because a lot of young people, like him and other family members, they were involved, and this is why it happened,” Olga said. “If people wouldn’t be involved we would never try to even move to [the] European Union.” The Ukrainian protests started due to former president Yanukovych signing a trade agreement with Russia and slowing trade with the European Union (EU). This was an unpopular move with many western Ukrainians, necessitated by an embargo Russia placed on exports to the Ukraine in order to discourage the intended move towards the EU. This spawned the protests in which Oleg’s father participated. “My father said that when the people meet in those protests in Independence Square [in Kiev], that’s where new society builds, because they can talk to each other and they feel how one another feels about this whole situation,” Oleg said. “This is how Ukraine can become a better society, if they connect through these peaceful protests.” But the peaceful protests turned violent in January, reaching their climax Feb. 20, when at least 88 protesters were killed in 48 hours. The violence started due to the Ukrainian parliament passing restrictive anti-protest laws. “[Yanukovych didn’t want to] change the government,” Oleg said. “He made it violent [with] gunmen and shooting at the protesters.”

While the violence of the protests was worrisome for Oleg and his mother, after government change was achieved with pro-Russian Yanukovych being removed from power, a new concern came into play. Russian forces moved into Crimea to protect Russian interests in early March. “[The Crimean situation] is kind of what is even more worrying, because a lot of those people that were in the protests, they already accepted that they can give their life for the better future of Ukraine,” Biletsky said. “So if war erupts, then they’re probably going to go to war, with my dad.” And although war is not a guarantee, Oleg’s mother shares similar concerns. “It makes me worry a lot because Ukraine doesn’t have really enough military to go against Russia, and there is Oleg’s father, and my brother, and a lot of my friends, they’re all in that age where they would volunteer,” Olga said. “They would volunteer and go into [a] war. And most likely they would be killed.” Oleg’s mother lived in Ukraine during Soviet times, and even though Russia is no longer the domineering political force it once was, any sort of Russian aggression brings back bad memories. “The government did what they did, and they never listened to the people and while in the Soviet Union we were not even able to go to church,” Olga said. For the Biletsky family, their experiences during Soviet times are part of the driving force for their involvement in

the protesting for the goal of democracy. “Most of my family is from the West, so we are pro-European, or pro-democracy, because during Soviet Union times my grandfather, for example, he got in jail because he was fighting for Ukrainian independence,” Oleg said. “So we are always on that side for Ukrainian independence, like during Soviet Union times from Russia.” While Oleg identifies his nationality as Ukrainian and supports the Ukrainian protesters and their push for democracy, being born in the United States and having lived here the past six years has given him a different perspective than his father. “If I was in Ukraine right now and I was in the same position as my dad, I don’t think I would go take significant steps to achieve [pro-European goals],” Oleg said. “Of course I would be for that, but if I was old enough to go fight, I don’t think I would be willing to take my life for Ukraine. A lot of people do think they would.” If war does not erupt, Oleg, who visits Ukraine during the summer and during winter break, including this December when the protesting was in its early stages, may see a different Ukraine when he returns. “If Russia is going to try to invade Ukraine, and maybe... a war may even erupt... then I won’t even be able to go to Ukraine,” Oleg said. “If somehow Ukraine will be able to avoid Russia’s attacks, and go on that democratic path, it will be better.”

NOV. 21, 2013 : UKRAINE

Feb. 12, 2014 : VENEZUELA

feb. 22, 2014 : UKRAINE

President Yanukovych’s cabinet abandons agreement on EU trade, turns to Russian trade. Protests begin.

National Youth Day in Venezuela begun protests around country to unite against government.

Yanukovych disappears as the parliament votes to remove him from power.

jan 16-23, 2014 : UKRAINE

feb. 20, 2014 : UKRAINE

Early march 2014 : UKRAINE

Ukraine’s parliament passes restrictive anti-protest laws. Violence begins.

Kiev experiences its worst day of violence in almost 70 years.

Russian forces enter Crimea and a disputed referendum says Crimeans want to join Russia.

10 MARCH 28, 2014



Westside alum navigates post-revolution media in Middle East By tom schueneman MANAGING EDITOR

Journalism is, in many ways, simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Hard work and quick thinking can go a long way, but sometimes the timing is just lucky. This was the case for Westside Alumnus Jahd Khalil in June of 2011. Khalil had only had his degrees in political science and Arabic for a few months when one of the biggest stories in in years broke, in a country he was already familiar with. At a time when most of his classmates were just trying to figure out living on their own, Khalil decided to drop everything and move halfway around the world to a country that had just overthrown a dictator who had been in power longer than Khalil had been alive. It was a dangerous time for journalists in Egypt. The same month, a female Egyptian journalist had been attacked while covering a demonstration calling for the trial of deposed president Hosni Mubarak. But with the danger came an opportunity that few young journalists are presented. “I wanted to go into journalism so it was a really good place to be going, just because it was a really big story,” Khalil said. What looked like a big story in 2011 has since become one of the biggest stories of the decade so far. The almost simultaneous outbreak of protests and revolutions across the Arab world, and the continuing unrest the “Arab Spring” has led to, has produced countless articles and TV segments, and Khalil has contributed his fair share, having had his work featured in well-known publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Esquire, and several others. However, much of Khalil’s work is done for an Egyptian publication called Mada Masr. “We’re trying to be the most independent news outlet in Egypt,” Khalil said. A lot of people talk about being fair and balanced, but I think it’s very hard for that to exist because everybody has their own biases, and that’s going to come through in their writing no matter what… We try to be independent in the sense that we’re not writing the opinions of the ownership except for the journalists who are actually the owners.” This lack of independence is one of the biggest issues Khalil sees with the state of Egyptian journalism. “Mostly in Egypt there are two ways that media exists,” Khalil said. “There’s either media that is owned by the government, and pretty much their job is to say whatever the government wants them to say, or they are owned by current big businessmen, and their job is to say a balance between two things. One is the political beliefs that the owners have, and the other is making sure that the advertising rates stay high, so producing content and stories that are popular, and maybe not so much in the public interest.” Mada Masr is trying to provide an independent alternative to the larger, more popular local newspapers. “What we’re trying to do is be in the small space in between those things for people who actually want to be informed about those issues, and they want a responsible voice that’s not being informed by sources of funding with ulterior motives,” Khalil said. Khalil tries to maintain a level of personal objectivity as well. “I have preferences as to … where Egypt should go, but I

Photo by Danya Chudacoff don’t necessarily think it’s my place, because I’m not Egyptian, to push for these certain things,” Khalil said. Maintaining a high standard of journalism can be difficult to maintain in Egypt however. “Things don’t really get done on the same schedule as they do in the States,” Khalil said. “There’s a lot of vague answers. No one will really tell you ‘no’, or ‘I don’t know.’ They’ll just say ‘yes’, or make up an answer, so you kind of have to get used to that… That’s really the key to living in Egypt — just being very patient.” But while patience might be enough to overcome the difficulties imposed by cultural differences, dealing with the post-revolution political climate can be more difficult. While the revolution was successful in overthrowing Mubarak, it has not brought about a modern, liberal state, as many early protestors hoped it would, and this is readily apparent in the challenges faced by journalists in Egypt. “Recently, this summer, since the military overthrew [democratically elected president Mohammad Morsi], it’s been a little bit more difficult because the government’s been feeding people a lot of [propaganda] about foreigners causing issues, and foreign conspiracy kinds of things,” Khalil said. “Being a journalist has been a lot more difficult. People are a lot more hostile. You can’t really get interviews in the street like you used to be able to do.” It’s a marked change from the environment Khalil had grown accustomed to. “When I first got here, you could walk into a crowd of like a hundred people and start talking to someone and no one would give you any trouble.” Khalil said. “But now, even when you’re talking to one or two people, people will come up and be like, ‘What are you asking them?’” Khalil can at least focus on the professional difficulties of being a foreign journalist, rather than the basic practical difficulties that many of his colleagues were faced with when they initially arrived. “I think that I’ve had an easier time than I think a lot of people did because I have lived in Egypt before. I studied

here,” Khalil said. “I already spoke Egyptian Arabic and I knew a couple of people here.” Arabic-speaking Americans are relatively rare in Egypt. “I’m one of the few Americans who are working [at Mada Masr],” Khalil said. “There’s actually only two Americans that aren’t Egyptian originally, and there’s only four Americans [total].” Despite his unique position, Khalil is unsure how much longer he’ll stay in Egypt. “Everybody’s asked me [how much longer I’ll be here] since I’ve been here,” Khalil said. “I’ve said I’m going to be here for another six months to a year, and that’s basically been my answer for the past three years.” While Khalil hasn’t yet decided what he would do instead, continuing to cover unrest elsewhere in the Middle East is a definite possibility. “My family is Lebanese, so we have some connections there, and Lebanon’s kind of interesting an story too, especially because of the war in Syria,” Khalil said. Alternatively, a return to the United States could be in store. “I’ve been thinking about spending the summer in the States and doing some journalism out of Nebraska,” Khalil said. “I haven’t really had a chance to be a journalist, or an adult for that matter, in the United States, because I moved to Egypt right away.” Wherever he ends up is unlikely to be a permanent station. Khalil is adamant about the need for journalists to be flexible in their reporting. “I think the trap that some journalists fall into is that they stay in a place way too long and get way too involved in the story, and they’re able to produce good stuff, but at the same time, you don’t have the ability to write about things that you may not necessarily know about,” Khalil said. If his career so far is any indication, this will not be the last exotic location Khalil reports from. You can see Khalil’s work on his website,, and follow him on Twitter @jahdkhalil.

ELL Program helps refugee students and families BY Grace Fogland Feature EDITOR The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which was founded in 1950, has been awarded the Nobel Prize twice. To this day, it continues to work as an advocate for refugees worldwide, which, as of June 2013, measured an estimated 15.4 million. While the situations in their home countres are unimaginable to most people, these refugees have managed to escape some of the most dangerous places in the world. Each year, the government sets a quota on the number of refugees accepted into the country. In 2014, as in 2013, the United States will admit as many as 70,000 refugees. According to the Refugee Processing Center, 6,900 of the 70,000 refugees accepted last year were resettled in Nebraska. District 66 offers an English Language Learners (ELL)

program to all immigrant students within the district, including refugees. The courses are designed to help these students transition to American culture, in addition to teaching them the English language. The ELL program also provides students with assistance in their “content classes,” which they take alongside other students. District-wide, 155 students participate in the program, including 14 at the high school. “The hardest part of being from a different country is not knowing how to communicate with others,” ELL District Coordinator Cyndi Reed said. “From my perspective, everybody wants friends and wants to be engaged. Language is a huge barrier.” The ELL program has helped students from 20 different countries, including Kenya, Ethiopia and Japan. There are nine ELL teachers in the district, including two at the High School, as well as 15 interpreters. In addition to teaching English, the ELL program assists

refugee families in adjusting to American culture. “We help them with the basics of our culture,” Reed said. “Knowing the difference between junk mail and bills are things we know because it’s part of our everyday lives. Some cultures don’t have what our society has, so we help teach them what they need to know.” The ELL program collaborates with Lutheran Family Services and the Heartland Refugee Services whenever a new family comes to the Westside district. Heartland Refugee Services helps refugee families by providing medical assistance and educational workshops for newly arrived refugees, while Lutheran Family Services provides employment services and cultural orientation classes, in addition to providing these services to families outside of District 66. “At Westside, we try our best to accommodate everybody,” Reed said. “We have excellent social workers, and if students or families need more, then we recognize that and are very supportive.”

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Graphic by Estella Fox

Westside staff member builds a family through caring, chance By Estella Fox MANAGING EDITOR “Do you know the word ‘serendipity’?” library assistant John Olson said. “Serendipity means you’re doing something and then a surprise comes along.” It seems like Olson would be the expert on fortunate surprises. His first organized meeting with his foster child Caleb Nichols was on Christmas Eve during snowstorm of 2009. It sounds like a picture-perfect setup, but it was more complicated than it seemed. “We spend the afternoon together, but I couldn’t keep him overnight because he was not officially my foster son yet,” Olson said. “He comes to me the day after Christmas to stay permanently, which sounds really great because it gave us like 10 days [before] school starts so we can get to know each other. That year, the whole week [of school] after [winter break] had been canceled due to the weather so we had like 20 days [together], and we drove each other crazy.” Olson had never had any children of his own, let alone a 15-year-old boy. Nichols had been placed in the foster care system again after his former home was deemed unfit. When he first moved in with Olson, conflicts arose. “His room was [in] the basement, [and] I had it all fixed up,” Olson said. “I had spent the month of November shopping for him. Well, when you’re a teenager, you don’t want your parents picking out clothes for you, right? He comes to me having a lot of life experiences, and he wanted to tell me who he is, in a teenage way. He was being rebellious, [saying things] like, ‘You can’t set my rules, I’ve been out there in the world.’” Originally, Olson had planned on having two middle school-aged boys to keep each other company. However, circumstances changed when he was asked to take care of Nichols. Nichols had been through several foster


homes before and had gotten into legal trouble. Since he hadn’t stayed anywhere with many rules, it was hard for him to adjust. “I was rebellious from any limitations that John wanted to set for me,” Nichols said. “I wanted to have my way and not listen to him.” At first, Olson wanted to have Caleb fit into his image of the ‘ideal child,’ but he soon learned to let him be his own person. Olson learned a great deal about how to raise a child. “[The biggest challenge was] just jumping in and not having sense,” Olson said. “Even as a teacher, I tried so hard to have this ideal kid that Caleb had to fit into. The challenge of a parent is letting the kid be themselves [and] trusting them enough to let them do that.” Once they had both adapted to the situation, their interactions became much smoother. Since Olson and Nichols met, Nichols has finished high school, gotten his driver’s license, gotten braces, and is now a culinary student at Iowa Western. About two years ago, Nichols and his girlfriend had a daughter, Catalina. Since both Nichols and his girlfriend worked on the weekends, Olson began to take care of Catalina on the weekends. Even though Nichols and his girlfriend no longer work those hours, Olson still takes care of Catalina. “They have a complicated relationship,” Olson said. “Caleb has some emotional highs and lows and so [I take care of Catalina] to take the pressure off of them [and] to give them some time together as a couple. Now I’ve gotten very selfish about it because I just like having her around.” Today, Olson and Nichols have a stronger bond than ever. Olson calls Nichols and his daughter every night. Serendipity played a major role in Olson’s relationship with Nichols, but it is more than that. They found each other by chance, but their relationship grew because they cared about each other. “The best, most enduring part is that I really do consider Caleb my son,” Olson said. “It’s a family forever, and that’s the way it is going to be.”


i really do consider Caleb my son. It’s a family forever, and that’s the way it is going to be. John olson Library Assistant


FACTS Source: Guidance to Success Youth Club

400,000 the number of children in foster care nationwide

4,000 the number of children in Nebraska who will spend tonight away from home as a ward of the state

60 percentage of foster children placed in homes together with some or all of their siblings in foster care

Westside English instructors return to school By JACE WIESELER A&E EDITOR

Sitting in an IMC, pretty much all you can hear is the complaint of how much homework teachers have assigned. But imagine having to grade all that homework along with having to do another large amount of homework each night. English instructors Molly Spisak and Emily Hough put themselves through this for the same reason: to become experts in their field. “I don’t ever want to stop learning,” Spisak said. “Getting my master’s in a field that I am passionate about is sort of that next step.” Spisak has already completed her Bachelor of Arts in English and in Secondary Education. She is currently going back to school at the University of Nebraska-Omaha to get her master’s in Arts and English. “I knew going into it [that] it was going to be hard to balance everything, but I was ready,” Spisak said. Spisak balances out her time between grading and schoolwork by spending her time at school helping students while spending weekends and late nights doing her own schoolwork. “Once you become an adult, I don’t think there’s a great time to go back to school,” Spisak said. “There will always be something keeping you from doing it.” Hough started four years after graduating from high school, so she has been in college for the past eight years, and hasn’t really stopped going to school. Hough has her bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education with an endorsement in Language Arts and a degree in British Literature. She is currently getting her master’s in English at UNO. Hough explained there are many disadvantages to going back to school as a teacher but the good outweighs the bad. “You can bring back new ideas to collaborate with other teachers,” Hough said. “You can also bring back a lot of the stuff you are learning in school to your students.” Spisak, who will earn her degree in 2015, and Hough, will receive hers in December, both recommend going back to school to other teachers even if it is a lot of work. “I think our job as teachers is to learn and to grow so that we can give the best education to our students,” Spisak said. Hough added that time management is one of the skills that would be handy to balance teaching and being a student. According to Assistant Principal Jeff Wagner, each teacher in the building has to earn their master’s within 10 years of starting work in the building.

Westside helps pay for a portion of their costs. “Our staff members are good about helping the other staff members, whether it be by lending their books or allowing them to shadow them during one of their classes,” Wagner said. “I think Westside is good about being a supportive community for each other.” While using these skills and being a supportive staff member, Hough has big dreams for her future, whether be in teaching or in another job. “I would actually like to be a consultant for the FBI to interrogate witnesses and things like that,” Hough said. “Or possibly teach college.” Spisak and Hough both agree they just want to see where their schooling takes them. “It’s too early to say right now [if I’ll go back to school after I get my master’s],” Spisak said. “I’m kind of in the trenches, but I do like school and I’m passionate about learning, so I can’t imagine this will be the last stop for me.”

English instructor Molly Spisak looks over her graded essay completed for her weekly Composition and Theory & Pedagogy course March 19 at UNO. Photo by Sarah Lemke

12 March 28, 2014



Senior learns about, raises, breeds chinchillas for show By GRACE FOGLAND FEATURE EDITOR

When senior Ruby Hickman opens the cage doors, she is immediately greeted by seven little noses pushing against her hand to get her attention. One manages to bolt out of the open door and zoom onto her lap. The animal’s name is Gerald McBoingBoing, and he’s a standard chinchilla. Hickman feeds him a treat, and then sets him back in the cage with the others. “One of my favorite things to do for [my chinchillas] is prepare sticks,” Hickman said. “They love wood from the crabapple tree in my backyard, so I will cut branches and stick them in the oven. They go crazy for the treat.” Hickman owns three white chinchillas, three standard chinchillas, and one ebony chinchilla. The ebony one, Venus, was her first. She bought Venus in 2008 after learning about her friend’s chinchilla. A year later, Hickman went to her first chinchilla show and was introduced to the world of breeding. “I’ve had many litters and sold a lot of animals,” Hickman said. “At this point though, none of my animals are paired to breed and haven’t been for the entirety of senior year because it’s just been so crazy. My last litter was about a year ago.” When Hickman bred in the past, she chose the pairings based on complementary characteristics — if an animal she wanted to breed was lacking in a quality such as fur density, she would pair it up with another chinchilla that had exceptional fur. “This is where going to shows is crucial,” Hickman said. “Judges make comments on every animal, both weaknesses and strengths, so the owner has to make conscientious choices when breeding two animals.” Chinchilla shows are opportunities for ranch-

ers to be evaluated on their breeding skills and have their chinchillas graded by judges. Unlike dog shows, chinchillas aren’t judged based on personality and obedience. They are graded solely on their appearance, taking into account their size, clarity of fur, density of fur and so forth. Hickman had to do a lot of research before she bought her first chinchilla, and even more before she started to breed. She quickly learned the Internet, which would seem the most obvious place to find information, wasn’t the most trustworthy source. “There are a lot of so-called experts online, and I have learned the hard way how to judge information for accuracy,” Hickman said. “I suppose it’s like trying to start a farm using the Internet — while there is information out there, it is often useless in practice.” Hickman believes the best resources are seasoned chinchilla ranchers, who have dealt with problems firsthand. With the help of some professionals and her own experiences and research, she has been able to learn how to take of her chinchillas properly. “At first, especially if you haven’t had a prey animal like a rabbit for a pet before, their behavior can be a bit stupefying,” Hickman said. “They have a lot of little quirks.” Hickman loves raising chinchillas because each chinchilla is different, both in character and in physical appearance. Her own chinchillas’ personalities range from being “sweethearts” to being evil”. “I love the challenge of getting to know each one,” Hickman said. “I have some that are crazy, bouncing off the walls, and some that are much more mellow. I also just love the process of learning about them. There’s always something new to learn.”

Top: Senior Ruby Hickman introduces one of her pet chinchillas, Venus, Thursday, March 20 in the basement of her house. Left: Hickman prepared a dust bath to demonstrate how chinchillas clean themselves by shimmying in rock dust. Photos by Sarah Lemke






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March 28, 2014 13


NEW TEAM, SAME GAME Student adjusts to new life through soccer By JAMES BUCKLEY SPORTs WRITER The class periods drag on for what seems like hours, with only two open periods to look forward to. Those two periods are when the fun happens. Every day during school in Colombia, sophomore Ivan Hernandez and everyone else in his class, no matter what age or size, would play soccer. All he and his schoolmates wanted was to play as much as they could. “They just play all the time,” Hernandez said. “At school we play, and in parks, because every park has a soccer field that’s actually pretty good.” To Hernandez, soccer is everything. He started playing when he was a little kid, and hasn’t stopped since. There comes a point in life when situations change, and for Hernandez, it started with his sister moving to the University of Nebraska-Omaha for college in 2009. “She told us it would be a better opportunity to be on college soccer teams for me, and for life in general,” Hernandez said. Although Hernandez’s family came for a new life, his main focus is on soccer. In Colombia, Hernandez was on the varsity team for his school, but here in America he made the junior varsity team for Westside. He is only 14, and suffered a knee injury which required surgery three months ago. He’s been recovering since. Despite Hernandez’s age and injury status, head coach John Brian sees potential in him. “He’s still playing a South American style of soccer, so he’s got to adjust to a faster, more physical game in the United States,” Brian said.

“They’re getting great training, it’s just how you take the information given and what you do with it to improve on it.” The difference between South American style soccer and United States style is that South American players will use finesse moves or tricks to move the ball on their own, while in America the players just try and get to the goal as fast as possible using the whole field. Since pre-season workouts, though, Hernandez has been able to get along well with the team. “When I came the first time to training, they [seniors Daniel Shonka and Joe Dahir] brought me to the field and shared how soccer is here,” Hernandez said. “They are really good boys.” Brian has also seen how well Hernandez is adjusting. “All the players like him — he’s very personable,” Brian said. “[Junior] Ariel Larios speaks fluent Spanish. He took an immediate bond to Ariel. That way he could speak Spanish to him.” Now that tryouts are over and Hernandez is adjusting well to his new team, he can’t wait to start a new season in a new country. “It’s quite exciting to feel that we are on the verge of starting the first football games and know that we will have a good season,” Hernandez said. Even though adjusting to soccer has only taken minor changes, after living all his life in Colombia, Hernandez had to start over at a new school, with new friends, even a new language. As hard as this may sound, Hernandez began his new life with ease. “The guys in my ELL class, they are all my friends,” Hernandez said. “They accepted me pretty fast into their group.”

Sophomore Ivan Hernandez participates in a drill at junior varsity soccer practice March 24 after school at Sunset Hills Elementary. The team has accepted Hernandez, who fits in with the group dynamic. Photo by Sarah Lemke


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14 March 28, 2014



Westside coach takes college coaching position By Tim Graves Sports EDITOR Good high-school coaches are often targeted in college coaching searches. Westside crosscountry coach Derek Fey is no exception. Fey will be accepting the position of head cross-country coach at the College of St. Mary for next season. “I wasn’t looking [for a job], that’s for sure,” Fey said. “Kim Gradoville notified me that the position was open and it might be a good situation.” Fey is the second Westside coach to take a job at the College of St. Mary after Gradoville accepted the position of head tennis coach. After applying for the position, Fey was contacted by Jim Krueger, the Flames’ athletic director. “The athletic director called and said I was on their list,” Fey said. “It was mostly because I had worked with the athletic director at Dana College.” Fey was the head men’s and women’s cross-country coach at Dana from 2005 to 2006, before he took a teaching and coaching position at Westside. “My experience at Dana was very bad,” Fey said. “The budget was very pathetic. The pay was not enough to survive, hardly. I was making $300 a month, and it was an 80-hour week for $300 a month. It was not enough.” Fey found an opportunity at Westside, and was not going to leave unless he saw the right opportunity. “I’ve got a really good thing going at Westside,”

Fey said. “And I wasn’t going to leave — I didn’t want to leave it — unless it was the right opportunity.” The College of St. Mary was the right opportunity for Fey. “I swore I would never coach a college again, because of the experience at Dana,” Fey said. “There were just not enough resources, not enough pay. I loved the recruiting part, and I loved getting to know the athletes, so it would need to be a situation where that other stuff fell into place. The budget, and the salary at College of St. Mary were much better.” Fey will be taking over a team that recently made its first appearance at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes national cros s - country meet. The team placed 26th out of 32 teams in the event. Even though he is taking a college job, Fey will be able to continue to teach at Westside. He will also be able to continue to coach girls track at the high school, although he had to resign as the boys crosscountry coach. He leaves the team on a good note — the boys won districts and qualified for the state meet this year. Fey does not know who will be the next crosscountry coach at Westside. He recommended his assistant coach Andrew Easton, who teaches in the English department. He will look to continue the success of the College of St. Mary cross-country program, and hopes the Westside boys cross-country team will have the same success.



I’ve got a really good thing going at westside. And I wasn’t going to leave — I didn’t want to leave it — unless it was the right opportunity. dEREK FEY CRoss-country coach


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Girls track coach Derek Fey converses with varsity runner senior Megan Peterson after her 800-meter run Monday, March 24 at the Dan Lennon Invitational Meet. Peterson finished 7th in the 800m, with a time of 2:35.57. Photo by Jakob Phillips

ARTS & ENTERtainment

March 28, 2014 15


Students create portraits for orphans in other countries By LIBBY SELINE STAFF WRITER A teenager stands in front of her mirror with her smartphone in the palm of her hand. Feeling confident, she snaps a picture of herself without blinking an eye and posts it on social media. There are no feelings of amazement or excitement, as this action has become routine. Teenagers take pictures of themselves every day, but many do not realize that other children around the world have never had the opportunity to own a picture of themselves. The Memory Project is an organization that brings together high school students all over the United States to create portraits of orphans in other countries for each orphan to keep. The number of students has grown since 2006, when the Memory Project came to Westside. Currently, there are 19 students participating. Students joined when art instructor and Memory Project sponsor Patty Wrighton asked art students if they would be interested in participating this year. Senior Steven McCarthy was one of those who volunteered. “I think I am probably doing the right thing helping these children,” McCarthy said. “They need some type of hope, and we’re the ones that need to give it to them.” Each student participating received a photo of an orphan from Mexico or the Philippines to create a portrait of. These orphans might not even own personal items, and have to share everything with those they live with. Through the Memory Project, they each receive a portrait that will be theirs to keep as their own. Students involved spent eight weeks working on their portraits. “It is just something that takes lots of time, so you’re just thinking about the children while you’re doing it,” returning participant Carlee Kochanowicz said. “It’s just a rewarding feeling

helping someone that doesn’t have that much.” Even though Westside students are creating portraits of these orphans, they do not know much information about them. When Westside first became involved, students were allowed to write letters to their orphans and even give gifts to them. From there, the orphan and the student would become pen pals. However, some orphans started begging students to adopt them. So, restrictions were introduced and now students are only allowed to sign their name and send a photo of themselves along with the portrait. “I’ve been painting a picture of this girl but I have no idea what her life is like, which makes me really curious,” sophomore Isabella Saklar said. The artists draw their orphans exactly as the pictures show them, but it is up to each artist what to include in the background of the artwork. “I thought of maybe making something happy and silly in the background to maybe bright[en] up her day when she sees it,” McCarthy said. Once the artists are done, the portraits are sent in to the founder of the Memory Project, Ben Schumaker, who delivers them to the orphans in person. “Last year when I sent my photo [to] the orphanage it was [a] really rewarding feeling because they sent footage back of the children with their photos,” Kochanowicz said. “They all looked very happy.” This project not only impacts the orphans but also the students making the portraits. “It just kind of tells you that there’s people out there who need help and there’s all sorts of things that you can do to help them,” sophomore Aarushi Arora said. “It just kind of changes your perception a little bit on those kids and everything that has happened to them before.”



They need some type of hope and we’re the ones that need to give it to them. Steven McCarthy SeNIOR

Top: Senior Steven McCarthy works on his detailed colored pencil illustration for the Memory Project after school in the pottery room March 18. Right: Sophomore Aarushi Arora delicately sketches shadows in her Memory Project portrait. Students who attended all of the sessions get 20 hours of service learning hours. Photos by Sarah Lemke


Freshmen team up to rap about lives, dreams By Libby seline Staff Writer Hunter Battreall was only in elementary school when a drunk driver hit and killed his father. Feeling broken, Battreall still went to elementary school, but home was a place to be sad. As he entered middle school, he realized he needed to change. “I just started realizing that life has to move on and what happened is done with,” Battreall said. “I was kind of getting to the point where I needed something to get my mind off of [my father’s death].” In eighth grade, Battreall noticed people around him rapping. However, they were rapping about things they never really did, and this confused Battreall. So, he started writing songs that related to him and songs that expressed his ideas. Through his music, he started to restore himself emotionally. “I think of [emotions] as one big blob of something in you,” Battreall said. “With every song, [my emotions are] just loosening up. I think [that] to this point I kind of realize how it’s going to be. Nothing can change as far as the past but from now on I can make a difference [in the rapping world].” When Battreall started rapping in eighth grade, one of his friends, now-freshman Emmanuel James, took notice. James also raps, and has been doing so since he was 9 years old. He thought it would be a good idea if he and Battreall did a song together. They soon became a team called Almighty. Through this team, Battreall and James support one another by sharing the songs they created as individuals. They also rap together when they are not working on projects by themselves.

“[When I rap] alone, I pick a topic on what’s going on [in my everyday life,]” James said. “With Hunter — we just rap about anything.” James usually raps about his “journey to the top” as a rapper. In one of his favorite songs, “Dreams,” he talks about his biggest goals. “In my song ‘Dreams Part One’ I say, ‘I don’t know failure because the bell don’t ring,’” James said. “To me [this] means that I don’t know what failure is and I shouldn’t know what it means.” When Battreall raps alone, he creates some “catchy” songs so people will listen to him. However, the songs that mean the most to him are the ones he pours his heart into, such as his song called “Dreams.” This song may have the same title as James’ song, but it includes different lyrics. “I have a lot of different phrases in ‘Dreams’ that relate to my life and are pretty sophisticated lyrics,” Battreall said. Battreall and James have been receiving help from their friends freshman Jonta Nivongsa and sophomore Cameron Crook, who support them and tell people about their songs. Freshman Trent Brown also helps Almighty by editing pictures taken of the team. Josh Nivongsa is a freshman who acts as their manager. They also get help from Elijah Clark, a freshman at Creighton Prep who advertises their songs and makes cover pictures that are posted on SoundCloud. Because of Battreall and James’ experience with rap, their friendship has strengthened. They both think highly of each other and consider each other to be good friends. “He [Emmanuel] is shy at school but outgoing around friends,” Battreall said. “He is a really good friend and not two-faced at all.” James also has a positive perspective on Battreall. “Hunter [is a] crazy entertaining guy to always

be around,” James said. “Most of the time he’s chill and just laid-back.” Battreall and James are both looking for more support and hope to become more popular around Omaha. In the meantime, they will continue to produce more music. Overall, James wants to find lasting happiness. “My future goals are just [to] get money,” James said. “And live life with family and friends happily and peacefully.”

Freshmen Hunter Battreall and Emmanuel James pose after school March 24 in room 253. Almighty’s songs can be found on their Soundcloud account online. Photo by Sarah Lemke

16 March 28, 2014

arts & entertainment


Omaha is full of eateries that often go unknown. We often resort to restaurants that have familiar environments and tastes, but the Westside area is full of great places to eat that not everyone knows about. Lance staff writers Abby Coen-Taylor and Elise Tucker set out to review some of the lesser-known chain restaurants in the district.

Photos by Estella Fox

JIMMY’S EGG 205 N. 80th St. Suite #119

FIREHOUSE SUBS 715 S. 72nd St.

PITA PIT 12242 K Plaza

While we waited in the short line at the Jimmy’s Egg, we looked around the small restaurant and saw that it was packed. The café gave off a classic ‘60s diner vibe. Egg-shaped lights lit up the room as the waitresses were quick on their feet. As soon as someone needed more coffee or when someone was ready to order they were there on the spot. Their sassy jokes helped with the wait too. The possibilities of a meal included creating your own omelet for breakfast or grabbing a burger for lunch. Our eyes were immediately drawn to the Jimmy’s Garbage Breakfast, otherwise known as the Doug McDermott breakfast, according to the waitress, because the Creighton star orders it whenever he goes to Jimmy’s Egg. We tried the sausage, egg, green pepper and hashbrown mix with biscuits and white gravy on the side. After a couple bites we were full because it was so hearty. The dish was around $7 but most meals were around $9. There is free wi-fi so students can come and enjoy a hot breakfast with their laptops or phones out. The experience at Jimmy’s Egg was a great way to start our day.

Next was Firehouse Subs on 72nd Street. We walked into this little sit-down sub shop and were greeted with a loud and proud “Welcome to Firehouse Subs!” An employee behind the counter recited a scripted monologue about the variety of sandwiches and what makes them different. We learned all the sandwiches are toasted to perfection with at least a quarter of a pound of meat. You can also pick one of their sandwiches under 500 calories or a chopped salad. Overall the sandwich were around $5 to $7 dollars, which covered the drink too. We both ordered the Club on a Sub, which consisted of white bread piled high with smoked turkey breast, Virginia honey ham, bacon and melted Monterey Jack. The fully loaded sandwich included mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion, and a dill pickle on the side. The sandwich was flavorful with a touch of sweetness and saltiness, while providing meat and veggies. The only downside to it is that the tables were not as clean as they could be and there isn’t any wi-fi. The table had dirty napkins and silverware. Overall, Firehouse Subs was a good sub shop for a quick bite to eat.

Pita Pit is a little hard to find, but it is in a class all on its own in K Plaza off of the interstate by 120th and L. There was a bit of a line at lunchtime, and it was tough to find a spot in the limited sitting area. It was worth it, though. They have many options for your type of style, whether you’re a vegetarian or a morning person. We both had the Chicken Souvlaki pita with Mediterranean seasoned chicken, spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, hummus, avocadoes, onions, feta cheese and tzatziki, which is a type of Greek yogurt, on the chicken. For me, (Abby) it was the first time I’ve been able to eat hummus without gagging. The avocado and hummus made the pita creamy and indulgent. I could taste all the flavors of the sandwich in one bite. Overall the price of the pita was around $7 and $9 dollars, depending on what you purchased. The downside of Pita Pit was that there wasn’t a lot of room to sit and it was packed. All of the customers were packed in tight, just like the mixture of different flavors inside the pita bread. Overall, we both loved the Greek twist on American lunchtime favorites.

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Lance Issue 7  

The March 28 issue of Westside High School's newspaper, the Lance!

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