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May 2, 2014

FUTURE PLANS Check out the center section to see where Westside seniors are going next year.

THE 8701 Pacific St. Omaha, NE 68114

Volume 58 Issue 8


An interesting culture

Students fix cars, find friends

By GRACE FOGLAND FEATURE EDITOR Senior Alex Rapp has a sweet ride. His 1999 Mitsubishi GSX has been transformed into a power machine with close to 400 horsepower. The redpurple colored car has an OEM look, meaning that the car is close to stock — there are no extensive modifications. Rapp built the modified GSX for speed and looks. “My taste in cars are those that look clean,” Rapp said. “I like sleepers, which are cars that look like normal cars, but they pack a lot of power under the hood. It’s a fun surprise.” Rapp received the Mitsubishi when he was 15 years old, and immediately started working on improving it. He taught himself how to make modifications on his car by learning from his friends and his mechanic, Chad, and by watching Youtube videos. “It’s a self-learning process,” Rapp said. “There’s different tips and tricks picked up from different people, but it’s really something you have to figure out yourself.” Replacing the exhaust pipe, upgrading the clutch and installing 272 camshafts to help with speed and

power are some of the major alterations Rapp has done on his car. He works on the Mitsubishi as much as he can during the week, and spends his weekends in his garage. “I like having a few car friends over and just talking while working on our cars,” Rapp said. “But mostly it’s just me and the garage. I like the silence, though, because I can get things done.” Rapp receives the materials he needs for upgrading his car from various places around town, or on the Internet. Some parts, like certain piping, he can make himself, but he usually has to search around to find other supplies. “The car hobby is very expensive,” Rapp said. “Things break that are costly to replace, but it’s worth it.” After Rapp adds a major modification, like improving the engine for added horsepower, he takes it to weekly meetings where other local car enthusiasts are waiting to show their cars off. The meetings are every Wednesday night in Gretna. “It’s an interesting culture,” Rapp said. continued on page 2 Photo by Estella Fox


Gangel shares knowledge, stays ‘professorial’

BY EMMA JOHANNINGSMEIER EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Social studies instructor Gina Gangel describes the library in her house as “a cast of thousands.” “In our house we have several bedrooms, and years and years ago, I thought, ‘Do we really need all these beds?’ No, we do not,” Gangel said. “And so I turned one of the rooms into a library, and it’s just stuffed.” The best part? Gangel has read all the books there, which range from philosophical texts to modern novels. It’s unusual to find such a well-read person, but then again, Gangel is a rather unusual teacher. For the past 21 years, she has worked at Westside, always teaching World History. She started teaching AP European History, her favorite course, about 15 years ago when the social studies department head retired. It’s hard to characterize her own teaching style, Gangel said, but she consciously tries to maintain a certain air of professionalism that’s different from many of her colleagues’. “I try to be professorial,” Gangel said. “Is that working? I’m not deluding myself? Good. That’s


all that matters. Yes, I know a lot of teachers have always wanted to be very friendly with their students. I’m sure there are teachers in this building where every single kid knows a great deal about their past and their likes and dislikes and all that. Maybe because I am an octagenarian [that’s a joke], but essentially I have never considered that to be a primary purpose of being a teacher.” Some of Gangel’s likes and dislikes, though, are evident in her teaching. For example, as anyone who has taken AP Euro knows, Gangel loves nuns. She shows videos of Sister Wendy, a well-known art historian, periodically throughout the Euro course. Contrary to some students’ speculations, though, Gangel was never a nun herself. However, before coming to Westside she taught alongside a number of nuns at the Ursuline Academy in St. Louis, a private convent school for girls. “Ivory tower doesn’t even begin to describe it. The children were pure angels. I had to check them for wings every morning,” Gangel said. “I mean, the nuns had been all over the world. We would sit in these antique furnished little parlors, and the nuns would tell you, ‘Yeah, I was in Nicaragua for 18 years,’ and that sort of thing, and it was just amazing. What a life. But no, alas, not me.”


It really, really is fun being in high school. i can’t imagine being anywhere else. GINA GANGEL SOCIAL STUDIES INSTRUCTOR

Before she lived in St. Louis, Gangel lived in Omaha and taught at Millard. That was her first teaching job. She had majored in Ancient Civilizations in college, but her love of history began long before she was an adult. “The truth is, ever since I was a little kid...oddly enough, my school had a remarkable library, and so I started reading at a very early age, and I have loved history since I was an infant,” Gangel said. “And so when you pursue something for these many years, it would be pretty pathetic if you weren’t pretty much an expert on it.” continued on page 2

Social studies instructor Gina Gangel visits the Colosseum in Rome in 2003. Gangel has been to Europe nine times to date, and especially enjoys visiting museums there. Photo courtesy of Gina Gangel

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CARS: students make own alterations continued from page 1 “When you all meet up, your car is your personality. There are so many things you can do with it, and it’s interesting to see what other people have done to their cars. Some people get really inventive.” While Rapp enjoys looking at other people’s cars, his favorite part of his car hobby is drag racing. 1320 Video, a racing organization, coordinates the Ice Cream Cruise in August every year. The Cruise is a two-day event with a massive car show on the first day, and allday racing at Mid-America Motorplex in Glenwood, IA the second day. When he has time, Rapp also participates in Mid-America Motorplex’s drag racing strip on Friday nights, where he pays $30 to race all night. “I love the adrenaline rush when I race in drag shows,” Rapp said. “I love driving in general, so when I can go fast, I take advantage of it.” Senior John Gallagher also participates in the drag racing at

Mid-America Motorplex and shares a love for the hobby. “Ever since I was really little, I have always been fascinated by cars,” Gallagher said. “The first Fast and Furious movie captivated me. Some of my family members are into cars too.” Gallagher has a black 2005 Subaru Impreza WRX that he’s made extensive modifications to. Like Rapp, Gallagher started working on improving his car when he was 15 years old. He learned how to add additions to his car from trial and error. “I’m building the car for speed and looks,” Gallagher said. “I love being able to show off my hard work when all my additions are complete.” While both Gallagher and Rapp love working on cars, Rapp wouldn’t want to make a career out of it. “I used to want to become a car mechanic,” Rapp said. “But I realized I didn’t want to do something everyday and kill the passion I have for the hobby. I just want to keep my love for cars.”

Senior Alex Rapp poses with his 1999 Mitsubishi GSX Monday, April 28. Rapp has modified the car himself. Photo by Estella Fox

GANGEL: history teacher talks about reading, hobbies continued from page 1 As for her own history, Gangel knows students, whom she affectionately refers to as “children”, are curious about teachers’ pasts, but won’t say where she grew up before going to UNL for her undergraduate degree. “Where is she from? Children do wonder these things,” Gangel said. “It’s just not something that I really want to talk about because in a lot of ways it’s just too weird, and I don’t want to play with it. Not scary weird, but kind of wonderful weird.” All Gangel will say is that she learned, as a child, a lot about her ancestors’ history, which she said influenced her love of history. As her students will attest, Gangel is rather unique in her ability to recall information about an astonishingly wide variety of subjects, and not just European history. She can tell you about the Renaissance or World War II, but she can also tell you about what was going on in most countries between major events. And you can definitely count on her to be up-to-date on current events. In fact, you can pretty much ask her anything and chances are she’ll know something about it. She gets the vast majority of it from her reading. For as long as she can remember, Gangel has consumed books, newspapers and magazines voraciously; her craving to learn new things is “like a disease.” “There is some quote in G.R.R. Martin, the Game of Thrones guy,” Gangel said. “He says if you never read a book, you only live one life. And I’m paraphrasing terribly here, but it’s very true, because it’s just amazing to experience so many things that otherwise you never would.” It’s hard to quantify how much Gangel has read, but by the time she was in her mid-20s, she found herself in the unique position of having read all the classics.


“I was such a purist that I would only read ‘real’ things,” Gangel said. “And Jane Austen counts. So, that kind of thing all the way through Marcus Aurelius, Sophocles, Shakespeare — you get the idea. Real things. And history books, obviously. And so by the age of 25 I had read them all. It’s a very bad thing to do.” Having exhausted the list of “real things,” Gangel had no choice but to start reading “trashy novels.” “When I say trashy novels, I mean I consider them trash, but I think most people would not,” Gangel said. “What is that book, Shades of Grey? I wouldn’t read that if you paid me and cut off both feet.” Today, Gangel enjoys discovering quirky international authors and is an avid Game of Thrones fan, having read the entire series in two weeks. She also keeps up with the news — she claims her love of National Public Radio amounts to an addiction, and she reads The Economist, Smithsonian and National Geographic regularly. Gangel does has cable TV at home and said she occasionally finds the Internet useful. For example, she uses it to look up who’s currently on the UN Security Council when she’s setting up UN Day for World History. She doesn’t like reading off a screen much, though, and said she can’t imagine why anyone would want to use Facebook. While Gangel isn’t anti-technology, she said that as a teacher she has observed some negative effects the Internet has had on society, and students in particular. “In a general sense, there is less depth of research than there used to be, and I think that is an issue that both teachers and students need to address,” Gangel said. “I think the Internet makes it too easy for a student to just get a kind of facile view of whatever topic they’re supposed to be researching. It’s just so easy to stay on top of the ocean and never dive in.”


What is that book, shades of grey? I wouldn’t read that if you paid me and cut off both feet. GINA GANGEL INSTRUCTOR

Countryside Village raises rent prices Countryside Village has recently been upgrading in hopes to meet the standards of today’s market. The owners think Countryside Village is ready for changes to be made, but have had to increase its rental prices from below the market rate to a price closer to the market rate to make these upgrades. “Countryside has invested upwards of $1 million in the preliminary steps to renovate the facilities,” said Shaun James, attorney for Countryside Village. “We are pleased to note that the efforts have resulted in several new tenants and lease renewals by existing tenants - tenants that the students at Westside and the families in the Countryside neighborhood will enjoy.” However, as new stores are coming into Countryside Village, some are leaving. March 15, Broadmoor Market made an announcement via Facebook that it would be closing April 15 due to certain circumstances. Frozen yogurt retailer Cherry Berry has also left Coun-

Nonetheless, Gangel said she loves teaching and doesn’t know what else she would do. Every day at high school is different, and she gets to use her vast knowledge of history. “I could be facetious and say I like the vacations,” Gangel said. “Those are nice. But no, it really, really is fun being in high school. I can’t imagine being anywhere else. Can you see me as a data entry operator?” Gangel said she finds the “children” funny and enjoys being around them, trying to convey to them an understanding and appreciation of the world and its history, and a sense of how funny history is at times. In her spare time, besides for spending hours reading everything she can, Gangel enjoys playing card games (some favorites include Canasta and Rubicon Bezique, a game played with four decks that was popular in the 19th century), as well as golfing. Another favorite activity is gardening. “You get to play in the dirt,” Gangel said. “How could you resist? With worms and those kinds of things...and seeing the fruits of one’s labor is nice, whether they be flowers or actually tomatoes, which are in fact fruits.” Gangel also enjoys spending time with her two cats — one named Ghost, and a younger one named Elf, whom she got last year as a kitten. Of course, Gangel also loves to travel. She’s been to Europe nine times thus far, as well as to Mexico and the Caribbean. On her trips to Europe, she likes staying at quirky bed and breakfasts and spending entire days in museums, although she also makes time to go to the tourist sites. Naturally, she picks up books along the way. Whenever she retires, whether that’s this year or sometime in the future, Gangel plans to continue reading, playing with cats, and gardening, as well as exploring the world. In particular, she’s wanted to visit the island of Crete for a long time. “Being free to travel during the off seasons is something I have craved for a long time,” Gangel said. “I have friends that when they go to Europe, they only go in October. For all the obvious reasons, it is very nice. So I would like to do something like that.”

BRIEFLY tryside Village and closed their other locations in the Omaha and Lincoln area. Although these tenants at Countryside Village are leaving, the upgrades being made will hopefully benefit the community.

Westside curriculum develops After only two years in his position, Superintendent Blane McCann plans on wasting no time getting prepared for the future. He plans to change Westside in hopes of better preparing its students for the everchanging world. “We’re looking at the future of education,” McCann said. “What we can do for students so that they are prepared for the world.” McCann’s goal is to create independent thinkers who are able to thrive in a service-oriented world. McCann would like to have a more personalized learning plan that shows students the relevancy of what they’re learning. The 2014-2015 school year will see the beginning of many of these changes. To many students, the most significant change is the technological push. Next year, students in all grades K-12 will have computing Briefs by Libby Seline, Connor Flairty and Lia Hagen

devices. Students from kindergarten to sixth grade will receive iPads to use at school, though sixth graders will be allowed to bring them home occasionally to finish projects. Seventh grade students will also now receive laptops. The technological changes are not the only changes coming next year. All ten elementary schools will begin operating on a new, uniform schedule. This schedule begins ten minutes earlier than the current schedule, and it will also shift the number of school days from 183 to 179 days. The day is made up of nine blocks of 43 minutes. Every day, 96 minutes will be spent on math. Despite these significant changes, McCann doesn’t plan on throwing all previous teaching tactics away and also intends to make these changes on a large timeline. Still, McCann is eager to start and likes the platform Westside provides for the experiment. “Westside has a great foundation,” McCann said. “We operate from a position of strength to make these transformations. It’s not a big shift for our community to make these changes.” While McCann admits to not having a “crystal ball” and thus not knowing the future, it is safe to say that changes are going to be made around Westside’s education system.

May 2, 2014 3

News David Korff

Friends of Westside graduate commemorate life By Estella fox Managing editor Students and faculty of Westside remember late Westside graduate David Korff as kind, empathetic and musically talented. “Everyone liked David, with good reason,” graduate Ariel Kohll said. “Every soul mattered, and he made sure they knew how much they meant to him. He was never scared to say ‘I enjoy spending time with you’ or ‘You’re awesome because...’ or ‘I love you.’ He recognized that people needed to hear that.” Korff passed away Tuesday, April 22 in a car accident that occurred around 1:00 A.M. near 72nd and Shirley. The news was announced at Westside at the beginning of sixth mod that morning. Once the news was made public, many of Korff’s peers from Westside immediately sought out ways to commemorate his life. Kohll was in the same grade as Korff, and after hearing the news, she immediately posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that she was holding a memorial outside the UNL Union that evening. Many Westside graduates came with sidewalk chalk, instruments to commemorate his love of music and memories of Korff to share with others. “I’ve experienced a lot of loss and grief in my life, and I’ve come to realize that the healing process moves a lot faster when people come together, rather than mourning alone,” Kohll said. “I also knew that David would want people to celebrate his life, and what better way to do so than with art and music?” Korff was well known for his love of music. Being a part of several bands, he got to know many of the people who are involved in music around Omaha. Juniors Simon and Sophie Clark work at Clark Studios, where Korff, who attended UNO, was recording music that was to be turned into an album. “David and I had always talked about finishing his album, and we had meant to get started on it

that weekend to get it out there but he never got the chance,” Simon said. “I just felt like it was my duty to finish it for him.” After finishing the album with help of sophomore Roger Slatten, the Clarks gave the album to Korff’s parents. Korff had a unique style when it came to recording music. He typically wouldn’t bring in a guitar or even lyrics, but would come in and record whatever he felt like playing that day. “You could just tell that he was so talented just [by] the fact that he was able to pick up a guitar and start improvising,” Sophie said. “It was just the coolest thing to watch, and we are so grateful that we got the chance to work with him and see him play his music. It was just a really cool experience and we learned so much.” Korff’s music, like his personality, radiated positivity. Because Korff was so well liked, the news of his death touched many lives around Omaha. “The best word would be inclusive,” Kohll said. “There was no one he didn’t become immediate friends with. I was always amazed by how far he could stretch his love and caring to include anyone who reached out to him, or anyone he could sense was too scared to.” Business instructor Sarah Schau taught Korff throughout his high school career, and continued to keep in contact with him after he graduated. “He was very bright, he loved to be the devil’s advocate [and] he loved to state his opinion,” Schau said. “He was very insightful. He was a very deep thinker. [He was] well beyond his years when it came to that.” Korff’s funeral service, held Friday, April 25 at Christ the King, was packed with friends and family. “The church was full,” Schau said. “It was a great tribute to the kind of kid he was and the amount of lives he touched. As a teacher, there were all types of kids there. There were representatives from every lunch table, so to speak, if that tells you the kind of kid he was. He cared about who you were, not what you were.”

David Korff plays guitar on a street corner in the Old Market during his junior year of high school. Korff was an avid musician, and participated in the music program at Westside as well as several bands outside of school. Photo courtesy of 2012 Shield






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3. Tell us why you have chosen to not tan indoors *To be eligible to win, you must follow the rules and regulations found at This campaign is supported by the Cooperative Agreement Number 5U58DP003928-02 from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the creators and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

4 May 2, 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.


Wha tev


Graphic by Lia Hagen


Students don’t recognize threat of college finance The month of May is always an important one with regard to college admissions. By this point in the school year, most seniors know what they will be doing next year, and perhaps more importantly for college-bound students, what they will be paying for the privilege. However, the costs of these post-secondary plans often determine the plans themselves. Soon, these costs will have major repercussions, not just on the education system, but American society in general. A recently released finding by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that last year’s graduating seniors had the lowest college enrollment rate since 2006. While an improving labor market likely plays a part in this decrease, the fact that the average cost of tuition has risen by an average of 5% every year for the last ten years can hardly be deemed a coincidence. In addition to this, there is evidence to suggest that college is not only getting more expensive, but also getting harder to get into. The Common Application, which many seniors are all too familiar with, plays a large role in this. By making it easier for students to apply to more schools, it has increased the number of applications a school receives — while the number it can accept has largely remained the same. All this is coming at a time when study after study is finding the value of a college education is higher than ever, which further worsens the issue. An astute student of economics will tell you that this is simply how markets work; as demand increases, so do prices. But anyone familiar enough with economics to know that should know, too, that bubbles are bad. Education in America has long been viewed as a fundamental right, and while that traditionally isn’t understood to include a college education as it is in other industrialized countries, the U.S. government has long understood that access to something as important to modern life as a college education is not something that should be left to the market. It’s why we have state universities, and student loans. But these measures only go so far. The cost of an education still goes up and down — and recently mostly up — based on

How bad is your

Kind of bad. I don’t do my homework. Elise Paulsen freshman

re ca ’t n do

the fluctuations of the market, leaving students at its mercy. But student loans — which help 12 millions students a year pay for college — are starting to do more harm than good. While the general consensus is that it’s still better to have a degree than not to have a degree, the benefits are becoming less and less significant relative to the costs. A college degree is no longer the predictor of income it once was, with many college-educated young people finding it difficult to secure employment; however college is usually still a better option than joining the workforce straight away. This means that students are often obligated to continue their education beyond high school, despite the fact that they are earning less for than previous generations have given similar qualifications. In turn, this is leading to fewer and fewer people going to college, and more and more people defaulting on their student loan debts. Some economists are worried that this will lead to a bubble between the actual value and the perceived value of these loans, which could potentially cripple the American economy if it continues to inflate. Yet popular awareness of this issue is almost zero. While it may exist in the halls of power — President Obama mentioned it in this year’s State of the Union address — there is a sense that no one is committed to dealing with this serious issue. There is a perception among American politicians that young people don’t vote, and that therefore issues that appeal to them can be ignored. But while students may not vote, they do protest, strike and riot — or at least they have the potential to do so. In Europe, student-led strikes are a regular occurrence, and have a history of bringing about sweeping social change. Yet American students seem perfectly happy to pay exorbitant amounts for degrees that are benefitting them less than ever, and could drag the entire economy down as a result. This is not a student issue. It’s not even an issue specific to young people. But young people are the source of the issue, and if there is to be any resolution to it, it will have to come from those directly involved now. By the time it concerns the rest of the nation, it will be too late.


It’s been bad, especially Extremely bad. I’m leat home when it comes thargic. to electronics and Jordan Tanga school ending soon. junior Trae Meeks sophomore

After being a teacher, i realized that [procrastination] impacts others. It changed with my career. Ayesha Station Teacher

May 2, 2014 5

opinion Pretending things are perfect will only make them worse

As graduation approaches, time to say thanks High school has started to feel suspiciously like a checklist, to me. Four AP exams to go. One more newspaper to produce (check). One more test in this class. One more in that. Ten more days. The more I think about it, the more I think school might have always been like this without my realizing it. Sometimes I got to enjoy interesting people and activities here, but I was still playing the elaborate game of trying to get the most grade EMMA JOHANNINGSMEIER points, be involved in extracurricuEditor-IN-CHIEF lars, get the right standardized test scores, finish all the graduation requirements, and so forth. Invested in a system where all these things mattered, I never felt like I really had a choice. As you can probably tell, I’m rather cynical of some aspects of high school (although the stress was definitely something I volunteered for.) I won’t go into it here, but there are some things — assignments I do, classes I attend, rules I follow, and so forth — where I find myself wondering, Why am I doing this? and can’t really find a satisfactory answer. I think many of my classmates can relate. But during the time I recently spent visiting my future college, as I kept hearing, “Come here for the people,” and “The people are what make this college great,” I thought, oddly enough, of Westside. I buy wholeheartedly the idea that the people are what make my future alma mater unique. I wouldn’t be going there if I didn’t. But I realize, too, that even though I didn’t choose to go to Westside, I’ve met almost all of the most amazing people I know right here. I really hope that doesn’t sound cliché, because there’s nothing I hate more than sounding cliché. I’m only saying it because I really mean it. When I look back on my experiences

at Westside High School a few years from now, I think I will remember the stress and the other things that I dislike now. But I’m sure I’ll think more of getting to know peers who are incredibly talented at a great variety of things, spending open mods laughing with friends in the SS IMC or the J-room, chatting during newspaper late nights, making new friends at track and cross-country practice, and spending time outside of school with people I met in school. I also think I’ll remember for a very long time what genuinely kind, professional, intelligent people so many of my teachers here were. There was the teacher who spent an hour and a half discussing The Grapes of Wrath with me after school, who when I apologized for keeping her from her work said, “This is my work.” There was the teacher who trusted me enough to let me learn two and a half years of a language curriculum on my own. And the one who inspired me and countless other students with his contagious love for poetry. And my two wonderful newspaper advisers, and all the others whom I could tell cared deeply about their subjects. While I might be quick to say that the educational system of Westside High School is far from perfect, I would also be the first to say how deeply, deeply grateful I am to all the dedicated teachers I’ve met within this system, teachers who were able to transcend our culture of grades and testing, who went beyond teaching me how to pass a test and ultimately left me with something meaningful. So I guess what I really wanted to say in this column is just thank you — thank you to all the teachers, students and others who have made my own high school experience not only bearable but also, at times, enjoyable. And for my fellow seniors — it’s hard to make any generalizations about high school, and I know that for some people the past four years have been very difficult, for a variety of reasons. But think back. Think of who meant something to you. There has to be someone. And when you say goodbye, please don’t forget to say thank you. You won’t regret it. High school might be a giant checklist we’re almost to the end of, but at least we have the power to end it on a good note.



This month, I saw one of the world’s most ridiculous pictures on Twitter. This will come as no surprise to those of us that actually use Twitter. The social networking site hosts some of our population’s best and worst exploits, documenting the lives of lia hagen activists and lazy teenagguest columnist ers side by side. This picture, however, was far worse than its usual horrors. It wasn’t intended to be ridiculous. It was actually posted quite seriously. The photo was covered in a filter and shot in a way that many people in our generation think is ‘artistic.’ It featured a girl clad in all tie-dye, surrounded by tie-dye blankets and in front of a tie-dye background. The caption declared her a flower child. Dear god, I wish I were joking. Actually, I wish she were joking. Honestly, I think it’s sad, the way we idealize time periods we weren’t a member of and people we’ve never met. We think the 60s and 70s were a period of ~freeeee loveeee~ where everyone was pro-peace and pro-progress. In our minds, they all wore no shoes and had long hair. According to our vision of the 80s, everyone listened to pop and dressed like Madonna as they danced like Michael Jackson. This is clearly untrue. The 1960s was a decade chock full of racism. The anti-war people in the 70s were a minority, and the 80s had the worst hairdos of all time. We come up with these legends, and then we complain when our generation fails to meet them. People say we’re lazy, unemployed narcissists with bad taste in music. Apparently we all live with our parents and don’t care about politics or our future. It’s impossible to judge our generation based on our ideas of how the others were. The reason why is clear: our ideas are wrong. We are flawed, just like every other generation in history. That’s how it is. Our problem with idealizing things does not end with generations, however. It extends to our images of the people around us. The obvious example is the way we think of celebrities, but it’s true on a smaller scale as well. That kid who always raises his hand in class is a genius; you’re nowhere near as smart as him. The girl in the cool clothes is definitely the most awesome person you’ve ever met. You’ll never go to as many concerts or know that much about film. It’s natural to look up to people. It is not natural to make that person into some perfect sculpture, the ideal image of what a person should be. Making a person into something other than a person is inherently dangerous. Period. It puts both of you into an incredibly uncomfortable position. Your situation is worse. You will either be horribly disappointed or you will constantly strive to become them and constantly fail. Your failure is inevitable because the “them” that you see never existed in the first place. It’s just an imaginary idol, pieced together from the bits and pieces you see of them in class or the persona that was put together by their publicist. Perhaps worst of all, idealizing someone prevents you from ever having an equal relationship with them. You’ll always be stuck on uneven ground. There’s no pleasant result that comes from idealizing people and time periods. Everything and everyone has flaws; it’s something you have to acknowledge. If you don’t, you’ll forever be reaching for something that does not exist. So please, I’m begging you: stop romanticizing everything. Because if I hear about one more 90’s kid or beautiful flower child, I may just make like an 80’s punk artist and scream.


PowerGrade A+

To all of the seniors who finally finished their senior projects. After hours of time spent preparing or, perhaps more realistically, procrastinating, you are finished with one of the final graduation requirements. In other words: you did it!


To Post-Prom. The idea of having somewhere fun to go after Prom is nice, but not allowing us to leave until it’s over is silly. We know you’re trying to keep us safe, but the event is until 3 a.m. Many people don’t want to be at a bowling alley that late.


To kids who cheer on fights at school. Fights are annoying at best and damaging at worst. When you videotape them, publicize them, or just generally give them attention, you encourage the behavior.

6 May 2, 2014



Sophomore honors Nepalese heritage through dancing, choreography By Nata Ward Feature EDITOR

Sophomore Sujata Sapkota picks the seat in the second row, as close to the stage as she can get. She will know three of the performers at the program that night: one is her brother, and the others are two girls now standing at stage right, waiting to be announced. One wore traditional Nepalese clothing: a long dress called gunyo choli and Nepalese jewelry braided into her hair. The other was dressed like a man in a traditional daura and surwal, complete with a hat called a topi and a paper mustache taped to her face. Sapkota herself is dressed in her pink kurtha, at Bellevue University’s Student Center, waiting for Nebraska Nepalese Society’s New Year’s Festival to begin. “We have to clap when they go on, Melisa,” Sapkota says to the person dressed in red next to her. Sophomore Melisa Rana, seated next to her and preoccupied with her camera, nods dismissively. Sapkota, however, is fixated on the stage. She tries to translate the announcer, who is speaking solely in Nepalese, and although she is fluent, she is too nervous to understand much. Her hands are shaking. Somebody taps on her shoulder. “Is this the dance you choreographed?” They ask. She nods, but her eyes never leave the stage. The two girls about to perform are eighth grader Bineesha from Bennington and sixth grader Imani from Ralston. For over a month, they have been practicing with Sapkota twice a week to learn choreography. “I was so nervous for them, [but] they were really good,” Sapkota said. “They did mess-up but it wasn’t noticeable. It was just a little mistake.” Helping others to dance, especially in a traditional sense, is an important way for Sapkota to honor her Nepalese heritage and to teach others about their culture. When Sapkota was little, she lived in Chitwan, Nepal. At 8 years old, she and her family moved to the U.S. to be with her father and to receive a better education. Her first year was focused on learning how to get around a new school and making friends.

Once, Sapkota didn’t hear the bell at recess and was left outside while the other kids went to lunch. “I was so embarrassed,” Sapkota said. “And I didn’t even get to eat lunch that day.” The second year was when she started dancing. “My parents forced me [to dance],” Sapkota said. “I think they just wanted me to not forget about the culture. Especially because I was always on the computer and technology.” Every Saturday for two hours Sapkota and a few other girls had dancing lessons. Someone else did the choreography for them. “When I was in Nepal, I didn’t dance,” Sapkota said. “[In America,] it became required.” Her first ever performance was when she was ten years old for a program called Dashain Tihar Program. She wore a choli and a cloth wrapped around her waist called a patuka. It was just one move — she forgot a hip movement. She didn’t miss a beat after the mistake and kept dancing, but it felt like the end of the world. “It was a little simple mess-up,” Sapkota said. “I don’t think anyone noticed it but I was really insecure...Afterwards, I just went to my mom and cried. I mean, she didn’t notice — like no one noticed — but I did.” Sapkota was obsessed with the idea of perfection, and even a small mistake felt like a betrayal of that ideal. After that performance, Sapkota didn’t dance again for a long time. It took her four years to regain her confidence, but she was afraid to go up on the stage again alone. The solution to this problem came at a birthday party when Sapkota met Rana. “She asked for my Webkins password and I gave it to her,” Rana said. “She spent all my money. I was like, ‘this girl got problems.’” Unlike Sapkota, Rana had never performed before, but she wasn’t fazed when Sapkota had her help with choreography and eventually, ask her to perform with her. The first cultural program they danced at was at the New Year’s Festival in 2013. “I had never danced in front of an audience like that, so I did it for the experience,” Rana said. “And Sujata needed a partner, so pretty much [I agreed] for her.” Sapkota doesn’t plan to be a professional dancer, but it will continue to be a part of her life. She also likes to teach others to dance, especially younger children, because it is a way to teach them about their culture.

“The reward I like getting after each dance is just making people feel like they are home even though we are in America,” Sapkota said. “We all are like 7,907 miles away from Nepal and most people don’t get to go back to Nepal due to the expensive plane tickets. So when NNS organizes performances like these, everyone comes to meet everyone in the community and just have fun.” This year, Sapkota and Rana did not decide to dance at the festival because they felt they didn’t have the time. So instead, Sapkota took the job to choreograph for Bineesha and Imani. “I was so nervous for them, [but] they were really good,” Sapkota said. “They did mess-up but it wasn’t noticeable. It was just a little mistake.” There were many compliments for the dance Sapkota choreographed. The star of the program, however, turns out to be Sapkota’s younger brother, Roshan. When he’s done, he bows respectfully and the roar from the audience is the loudest all night. Sapkota, after the cheering dies down, of which she’s probably the loudest, turns to me and smiles. “I’m going to dance next year,” she says. “Whether Melisa wants to or not, I’m going to do it.”

Sophmores Sujata Sapkota, Melisa Rana and their friends stand outside Belluevue University’s Student Center Saturday, April 19. The clothing they are wearing is traditional Nepalese wear called kurtha. Photo courtesy of Melisa Rana

Nikko Jenkins

Serial killer’s motives fascinate English instructor By Grace Fogland Feature EDITOR English instructor Otis Seals scribbles something on his legal pad, pauses, and then finishes his thought. It’s a timeline of notorious convict Nikko Jenkins’ crimes since the beginning of June 2002. The victims’ names are written in a neat list, while Jenkins’ trial dates are scrawled under the different offenses he’s committed. There are newspapers with feature stories about Jenkins— eight to be precise—scattered about, and textbooks filled with information about the human psyche are never far away. Seals has kept records of Jenkins’ family, trials and crimes since September 2013. Jenkins’ family of 47 people has a combined total of 633 crimes, including 65 felonies. The convict himself has been in juvenile detention, charged with armed robbery and carjacking at gunpoint. All of Jenkins’ trials and crimes have been documented on Seals’ legal pads. “This is going to sound really weird, but I’ve been very interested in serial killers and mass murderers ever since I was in school and taking psych classes,” Seals said. “I’ve done tons of research into abnormal psychology and criminology and why people commit crimes. I don’t know why I’m drawn to it. I’m weird I suppose.” Recently, Jenkins stood before a judge on April 16 for the murder of four Omaha citizens in the summer killing spree of August 2013. He was found guilty of first-degree murder and eight weapons counts. Jenkins will be moved to the Lincoln Correctional Center, where he will be held for penalty sentencing. There, he will have access to the law library, and work with the public defender’s office for his death penalty sentencing. “I think it’s a no brainer that he was declared

guilty,” Seals said. “I’m not a believer in the death penalty though. There’s no question that he needs to be in jail for the rest of his life with no parole, but I’m against capital punishment.” Seals has tried multiple times to send Jenkins a letter, but he has never received a response. He wanted to know Jenkins’ thoughts on why he was such a violent person and understand why he committed the crimes he did. “He clearly has problems,” Seals said. “I want to go visit him in jail sometime and ask him [my questions] if he’s not going to answer letters. Who knows if I would make it out alive?” Seals took Criminology and Psychology classes in college because he originally wanted to go into law enforcement. His plan was to start out as an Omaha Police Officer and try to work his way up to a federal position. Seals was interested in Criminal Profiling, which deals with understanding the motives of criminals and the crimes they committed. About five years ago, Seals started coaching baseball at Westside. After two years of coaching, he decided to teach high school students. “I really enjoy working with high school students: teaching, guiding and influencing them,” Seals said. “I haven’t looked back.” Seals has used his Criminal Justice and Psychology major to teach sociology at the high school. Last semester, he taught a sociology project for seniors, and used Jenkins’ murder case in their Violence Unit. Seals called the Omaha World Herald, and had them send him a PDF of a frontpage news story about Jenkins. He printed it out in a classroom set, and used it for an open-floor discussion where students talked about sociological violence and the psychopathy of individuals who commit crimes like Jenkins’ family had. “It’s the unknown that intrigues me,” Seals said. “We don’t know why serial killers and mass

murderers do what they do. If we could figure out why, and maybe and try and identify people before they go do the things they do, we might save some people. You never know. There may not be a way to fix it, but maybe we could try something.”

English Instructor Otis Seals poses at his desk Tuesday, April 29 before school. Photo by Jakob Phillips

May 2, 2014 7



Off-season classes offer supplement to traditional education By Elise Tucker Staff Writer

With summer vacation just around the corner, many students are looking forward to the extra hours of sleep, vacations or even just being on the computer or TV for hours each day. But for some students, summer vacation means summer school. A student might be placed in summer school because he or she failed a class. However, some students actually voluntarily attend summer school get some extra credits. Guidance counselor Kirk Henningsen is teaching a class called Mindfulness and Positive Psychology for the summer school program this year. He came up with the course when he saw students stressing over classes, tests and finals. “I believe mindfulness is very helpful in managing stress, and helping people deal with their emotions,” Henningsen said. “It is something often neglected in school, but so important to improving the lives and success of students, and in building focus, something very necessary to be successful in school and life. “I also believe that being happy and finding meaning in life are idealistic but also realistic goals.” Henningsen hopes students will enjoy the class and get a sense of how to implement the skills taught during the upcoming school year.

“Students will spend a considerable time actually practicing mindfulness,” Henningsen said. “Students will think about and look at what research says leads people to be happy.” Anyone can sign up for this class, as long as they have their counselor’s approval. In the new social studies summer school class, U.S History through Hollywood, students can travel back in time through movies and writing. Social studies department head Bob Brousek approved of the new class, which will allow students to learn about history through pop culture. “The class will focus on some films that Hollywood has produced. Students will learn if that is a clear image of what actually happened,” Brousek said. The class involves students watching the movies and writing about what they saw,” Brousek said. “They will also compare the film reviews to their own opinions of the films. “I think students should take this class because it would engage them more in history classes or real life,” Brousek said. There can be some drawbacks to summer school classes though, the primary one being the time commitment and free time trade off. However, there are some benefits to summer classes. “Summer school is a good time to earn credits to catch up, and some classes are offered that

are not offered during the year,” Henningsen said. “You can earn eight to 10 credits in three weeks and three days.” All summer school classes run from June 4 to June 27. The Mindfulness and Positive Psychology class will start at 8 a.m. and will go to 11 a.m. along with the U.S History through Hollywood class. Summer school signup started on April 14.

Graphic by Lia Hagen


Students use projects to expand their interests in art, science By PHOEBE PLACZEK NEWS EDITOR

Students scramble to meet the final deadlines of their high school career. Crammed with last semester assignments, seniors still have to complete this final requirement to graduate. It has been hanging over their heads all year, yet many manage to put it off until the last minute. Other students, like David Livingston and Wala Albahrani-Ehsan, have been working diligently all year to set their senior projects apart from the rest. “I do think there’s some built-up apathy towards senior project because we’re at the end of high school and we’re just doing things easy and just trying to get done with it,” Livingston said. For senior project, seniors are expected to display their knowledge on a certain topic in a creative way. Livingston is creating an art fair for the inCOMMON Community Development program as his senior project. InCOMMON Community Development is a non-profit organization that helps rebuild neighborhoods that face poverty through community-based initiatives. Its mission is to strengthen and unite vulnerable neighborhoods by helping the residents and families overcome their challenges. Livingston’s art fair is called the “Mother’s Day Benefit Art Fair” because it will be held the day before Mother’s Day, on May 10 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Booths will be set up in the front parking lot of Westside for vendors to display various types of art. According to Livingston, there are expected to be 40 to 50 artists selling their art. Attendance is free, and 50% of the profit from booth fees and donations will go towards inCOMMON Community Development and the rest will go to Westside’s art department. “I haven’t turned anyone down, because we’re trying to raise as much money as possible for inCOMMON and Westside,” Livingston said.

Livingston used connections he had from football and other activities to find artists to be in his art fair. “A lot of work goes into promoting the event and going to different galleries to tell them what we’re trying to do,” Livingston said. “It’s very difficult. There’s a lot more to it than a normal senior project.” Livingston chose this project because he likes to challenge himself. His company, Twisting Tree Pottery, inspired him to come up with the idea of an art fair. “I started off wanting to get all the profit from it and give it to my company,” Livingston said. “[The teachers] didn’t let me get profit because they told me it has never been done before and then everyone would make their senior project just to make money off of it.” Livingston hopes Westside will allow students to make money off of their senior projects in the future. He said teachers are pushing students to be more creative with their senior projects and hopes his art fair will help inspire them. Albahrani-Ehsan created an animated series for her senior project. She used animation in iMovie to create a two minute 28 second story of herself going back to the Islamic Golden Age and meeting with different scientists. Albahrani-Ehsan said she chose to do this because she was interested in learning about contributions to science. Albahrani-Ehsan started working on her senior project in the summer of 2013. She said it took a long time because she had to draw every movement of the characters for the movie. Her sister helped her create animation using iMovie, Photoshop and a tablet from the art department. “If you procrastinate, [the senior project is] gonna be hard,” AlbahraniEhsan said. “I think it’s really fun and exciting. If the subject really interests you then you will really love senior project even though it takes a lot of work and time.”

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8 May 2, 2014


471 students. 31 states. 2 co Creighton University


Alex Lamb Aviva Atri Brad Collett Christine Burlingham Julia Blair Sam Jensen Sarah Snyder Summer Khalil

Metropolitan Community College Abby Fago Alexis Clapp Ally Stark Amanda Lewin Aradia McClean Autumn Call Ben Jones Caitlyn Shantz Cassidy Swanda Cody Smith-Finken Cora Dorau

Daniel Keller David Livingston Dedric Gill Eric James Ermin Guhdija Jarett Brewer Jennifer Hawkins John Gallagher Jonathan Tipton Kaitlin Wahl Karingiselle Porras Katie Brandle Kayla Davis Kayton Fee Keelan Dunn Kiersten Whittington Kyle Zyla Liz Lobo Mackenzie Boyle Marissa Smotherman Max Zielinski Meredith McClelland Mariah Norman

Matt Larson Michael Watson Nikki Ryan Nyathak Ruach Noah Shafer Philip Saner Rachel Jarvis Shannon Burke Sophia Diaz Zack Boonie

Nebraska Wesleyan University Casey Callahan Danylo Serednytsky Joe Zanders Kylea Mathison

Midland University Christopher Garcia Joanna Kathol

Clarkson College Rachel Kaup

*and 1 U.S. territory

Southeast Community College

Survey conducted by Emma Johanningsmeier and Kellie Wasikowski Design by Kellie Wasikowski Graphics by Allie Laing

Chris Dahir

Northeast Community College Kevin Metoyer

All seniors were given the opportunity to participate in this survey.

Hastings College Daniel Shonka

Brooke Avery Bodhi Confer-Wood Keynan Scott Cami Brandt Michael Trivilino Cassandra Droz Zach Lehr Chelsi Webber Chloe Glass Capitol School of Cody Cramer Hairstyling Colton Ruhl Jade Fleming Cory Keilig Danielle Nelson Joseph’s College of David Atwell Cosmetology Desirae Hager Ruby Wright Dominick Cartledge Wayne State College Doug Flakes Dylan Sorrell Jamaal ConwayErin Gatzemeyer Smith Hannah Hadley Lane Yates Hannah Turman Marcel Wright Hoang Le Nichole Smith Jake Hagedorn Taylor Guffey Jeff Thompson Mackenzie Madson Joe Biodrowski Josh Cain Doane College Justas Balsys Michael Herrmann Kayla Prouty Marie Matthews Kelli Schilken University of Nebraska Ken Oathout Kristine Assmann - Omaha Liam O’Riordan Abby Innis Logan Graeve Alisha Wilson Maddi Life Allen Rosenblum Maddi Schremmer Allison Heath Majdulin Tombi Amir Khan Mariah Schon Anna Humphrey Mark Sweeney Becca Corsaro

Peru State College

University of Nebraska - Lincoln Alec Hein Alex Rapp Alexa Kelly Andrew McVay Annabelle Abisset Armani Maclin Blake McGeorge Brandy Leaver Brock Nemecek Caeli Hermsen Caitlyn Thierstein

Caleb Jenkins Camden Bilyeu Carole Kauffman Cassie McCormick Cheyenne Janicek Colleen Hacker Connor Kennedy Connor Paskach Cooper Matt Dylan Koslaphirom Emily Dietrich Emily Kunkle Emily Reece Erin Ford Gigi Grant Guin Drabik Hannah Shaw Henry Dobson Jackson Rose Jake Meyers James Burdyny Jayden Johnston Jennifer Torres Jimmy Esola Joe Dahir John P. Ficenec Jonah Bremer Jonathan Vidlak Jordan Rys Julia Nguyen Katie Kupka Kellie Wasikowski Kelsey Koski



UNiversity of Wyoming

University of Sioux Falls


Cameron Port

Megan Peterson


Matt Dornan Matt Taylor Max Knight Max Rennels Megan Sauerbrey Michael Krone Michaela Gibbons Mike Kiger Mumin Hussein Nick Harvill Nyalot Monyjiak Pierce Fulmer Quinn Nelson Samantha Commander-Klitzke Samuel Maaiah Samuel Tarin Terry Edwards Tom Kochanowicz Wala Albahrani Zach Dukes

Iowa State Univ

Caleb Nesbitt Moriah Guyett

Upper Iowa University

Grace Nichols

Demarkus Scott


Cornell College Charlotte Tjaden

Regis University Reneé Stewart

Drake University Justin Norton Michael Palandri

Colorado State University


Nate Selby

Kershaun Stewart

Kelsey Washbu Margo Wilwer

Iowa Western Community Colle

Southwestern Oregon Community College


Laine Swift Laura Salisbury Laurel Oetken Lauren May Lexi Jansen Lexy Wageman Lukas Greene Luke Biggs Maddy Witte Marian Joyce Monica Pelto Monique Olive Morgan Dinkel Nick Castan Nick Natvig Nika Longe Nikia McBride Olivia Beier Riley Harberg Riley Sullivan Ryan Fetters Sam Kupka Sam Skokan Sam Wilkinson Samir Thariani Sarah Carlson Savanna Couill Shaneese Watk Shannen Picke Spencer Polk Tom Stegman Trent Gift Zach Rawnsley

Aaron Bowen Devin Rollins Devin Stueck Ismail Hamze Kaylee Bisaillo Meg Lindauer Shalan Farwell Traci Wentink

University of Colorado Boulder Josh Sullivan

California State University, Fresno

Metropolitan State University of Denver

Charié Payne

University of California-Santa Barbara


Lindsay Kusleika

Wichita State UNIVERSITY

Front Range Community College, Larimer Maggie Carmichael

Mitch Bruckner


Claudia Prescher

Maddie Salerno

University of Kansas Brady Novak Chelsea Kavich Kamri Dickerson Lindsey Ahrens Liz Kutilek Stephanie Atabong

Haskell Indian Nations University Derrick Sleeper

Stanford University


Emma Johanningsmeier

University of California, Berkeley Eva Phillips

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

HAWAII University of Hawaii Kyle Tilton

Esmeralda Marquez Madrid

Pepperdine University Haley Bekins

University of Advancing Technology

Jonathan Santoya

University of Arizona Chase McCann Dilnoza Inoyatova Lauren Griffin Maddie Jensen

Arizona State University Jake Dunn Ryan McCarthy


NEW MEXICO Santa Fe University of Art and Design

University of Oklaho

Jessica Murph

Trinity Anding


TExas christian university Caroline Luther Cora Watanabe Jacque Hogan Mallory Thompson Nicole Burns Patrick Wilkening


May 2, 2014 9

ountries. 1 graduating class. Jeff Bryson Jordan Kreus Nathan Kocmick Sammy Hancock

OVERSEAS: University of Edinburgh


Tom Schueneman

Inter American University of Puerto Rico


Military Angel Johnson Cami Wagner Dustin Andersen Nick Avis Mike Tran Peter Gottsch ShelbyAnn Miller Tess Alzuri Vincent Bevilacqua Virginia Salgado

Sol Miranda-Ortiz

Transition Program Austin Barrett Christian Wee Derrick Webb Jacob Kalasky Jamie Burns

er l


Workforce Gap year Amber Kischer Caroline Arant Clayton Worthington Colin Rhen Colyn Barker Dane Ehrhorn Derek Richardson Drake Schmitz Dylan Aldrich Kelly O’Connor Mackenzie Dobson Matt Saucedo Melissa Moody Paige Dankof Tyler Gould Sage Annis Sean Ackerman


Alex Hayward Andrew MuilenburgHasselman Collin Jones DJ Nelson Hanco Germishuys John T. Ficenec Nick Powers Peggy Clements

Did not PARTICIPATE Josh Skinner Kenneth McDowell IN survey:

Jordan Hutfless Karlee Diesing Laurissa Germishuys Maks Richards Mallory Wooster Morgan Pietramale Olivia Thiel Philip Dworak Rob Ramsey Shareef Salfity Tanner Piper

Abrin Jeter Adnan Guhdija Aiden Cady Alexis Kline Anne Ferraguti Brenden Grillett Bryan Perkins Dean Parker Devin Gibney Dillon Colvin Drew Fitzmorris Eden Ginsberg Ervin John Florencia Villar Jack Johnson Jacob Spaulding James Newell Jennifer Wesemann Jeremy Letzring

College – Undecided Amy Hutton Annie Cosimano Antonio Acosta Aviva Atri Danny Dooling Demi Holmes Evan Davis Gach Tot Hanna Ingraham Jade Murray Jon Young

Undecided Blayne Byers Cody Peterson DeVontae Thompson Haley Schober Jack Espejo Jack Gilinsky Jake Frausto Matt Bennett Shannon Hensley Zane Slatten

Kim Kisicki Kyle Bonneau Kyle Krone Logan Costanzo Madison Coffey Megan Bailey Michael Freeman Mallory Wooster Naomi Samuel Nathan Messier Nick Steffes Nicole Kinnison Quiana Thomas Sabriya Clay Sagal Mohamed Shawn Dunham Sonja Denholm Steven Sorensen Zachariah Lamb

Carleton College

n i

Drew Gerber

Emerson College

lard kins ering

Lissa Deonarain

Tufts university Aaron Murray


Berklee College of Music Tag Ryan




urn rding

Tess McFadden



l k


WISCONSIN University of Rebecca Boocker

Brock Howery Jalen Cox-Martin Malek Pittman Taja Prince


Iowa State University

Hannah Rutgers

Kelsey Washburn Margo Wilwerding

Will Gigantelli

Loyola University Chicago

Christian Hagan

Northwestern University Ari Juster

Indiana State University Jacob Arnold

Maggie Kroeger

St. Louis University

Cordel Fonfara Joel Beckley Maggie Brekke Matt Connelly Megan Alston Tom Young

Catie Thull Kate Stegman Stevie Chesterman

William Jewell College Sandra Adams


Audrey Leclou Jordan Wheeler Kayla Holmes Stuart Willett Augusta Thacker

Allie Starks Jack Matt

Kansas City Art Institute Camile Messerley Edita Dornan



Rutgers University


Louisiana State UNIVERSITY Maddie Dornan

Youssef Eweis


University of Virginia

Centre College

Christopher Newport University

Sophia Limas

Nate Lippincott

McKinney Harwood

Liberty University Katie Trimble



Grace Evans

FLORIDa ECKerd College Jennifer Barak


New Jersey

University of Pennsylvania

Darren McGuire

RJ Weiss

BElmont University Truman State University University of Missouri

Wen Lin

BEthany College

Eureka College

Northwest Missouri State University

Danny Dooling

Brooke Schneiderman Hannah Budwig Hannah Miller

Lake Forest College


New York University Parsons The New School for Design


Northern Illinois University


Emily Glazer Katie Zetzman Tyler Siegel

Indiana University

Katy Kerby

Minx Thomas

Rockhurst University

United States Coast Guard Academy

University of Michigan

DePaul University





Morningside College

La’ James International COLLEGE


Nova Southeastern University Frank Hiffernan

10 May 2, 2014



DEBATE Charie Payne

naomi samuel What is your favorite part of giving an extemporaneous speech?

I’ve gotten topics that have been “What can we do to end the bloodshed in Syria?” or “Is it important to preserve democracy in Ukraine?” A lot of people find them really boring, but I think they’re really interesting questions because they’re so important to the world, and it’s kind of like my opportunity to give a seven-minute speech that has such far-reaching applications and addresses such a climactic issue in our time that literally reaches hundreds of thousands of lives.

What awards have you won in the past four years?

I qualified my sophomore and junior year to nationals, but I didn’t really want to spend the money to go. But I qualified again and I am going this year, because it’s my senior year and last shot to do it.

How have you been a leader this year?

We’re always trying to expand our team, so we always try to encourage younger members to try different events and to go to as many meets as possible. And we work on them with their individual events and try to get them to be as passionate as we are.

Every year, hundreds of students enter and leave Westside with different interests and passions. They excel in many different activities. The Lance sought out eight individuals graduating this year who have impacted different areas of Westside High School. Of course, this is only a small sampling of all the students who have put in hours and hours to excel in whatever activities they participate in.

When did you first get involved in debate?

I started when I was a freshman here, but the head coach changed during my sophomore year, and he began to teach me about performance debate and political activism, and about stuff that we could do within our own power.

How do you access social activism through debate?

Debate is a community where we come together with people around the city and the country, and we get to share our experiences in Omaha. For example, me and my partner have talked about how Omaha is the most dangerous city to be black and how we’ve been affected by that. We go to tournaments and bring a different perspective to policy debate.

What has been your greatest achievement in debate? Personally I believe I’ve achieved a confidence and a boldness and I think I’ve left an imprint on somebody’s life. I remember at one tournament there were all of these girls watching us, and after the round they were talking to us and asking us about our arguments. I felt like I made an impact, and that’s what I want. I want to make a difference in somebody’s life and change their mind about what policy debate is supposed to look like.


How has your role changed throughout your three years being on the magazine?

In my first few years, I really only had to care about what my specific job was, but being editor-in-chief you’re responsible for everyone and everything that’s going on, and being a newer publication it was a lot of work and a lot of organization.

What have been your most important goals this year being editor-in-chief?

I really wanted to push to promote the magazine, and to gain more staff members and increase readership. I also want to make sure that everyone is invested in it, and everyone cares about what they’re creating. Then I think morale is higher, and if you’re writing something that you care about then the quality is better and your reader is going to care about it so much more.

Have you done anything with design and leadership outside of magazine? I actually got accepted into an art studio in Omaha, and I had absolutely no portfolio ­— I just showed them the magazine and they thought it was really neat. Now I’m in the digital arts program, and I’ve taken things that I’ve learned in magazine but applied them in a different way.

THEATER first inspired you to get involved in theater? KERSHAUN STEWART What My brother is five years older, and when I was in eighth


grade I saw my brother in Romeo and Juliet at the high school, and I thought, ‘wow, that was awesome. I should keep doing theater.’ And I got really into it, and I was good at it.

How do you think you have grown from being involved in theater?

What has been your experience with live acting performances?

I took my first acting class at the Rose [Theater] when I was 8, and it was a Harry Potter acting class. Then when I got to high school, I stopped taking classes around junior year at the Rose to focus on Westside’s productions.

How has acting helped you to have a better understanding of different perspectives?

When I was a freshman I was not very talkative, a little awkward, and I never told anyone I was in theater. But the more I became a part of theater, it showed that I always had a group of people I could always come to, and a place where I could just call home. So I think that really helped me grow as a person, and dedicate myself to what I want to do.

Since I’ve been involved in acting so much, I have to be able to put myself into other people’s shoes in order to make a character. But that can also apply to my life too. I’m such an open-minded person that because I have to be able to put myself in other people’s shoes while acting, I have to just be understanding of people in my life too.

How do you think you’ve been a leader this year for other theater members?

I learned how to take criticism at a young age because of the audition process. I’m not going into acting to be famous — the last thing I want is money or fame. I’m doing this because it’s what I really love to do. Being an actor, especially in film or TV, is not always about your talent. It’s also about the way you look or talk, and learning that at such a young age has prepared me. I’m ready to see if I can make it.

I’m not one of those leaders who is really loud or yells, but I’m more of the backstage guy who is your friend, but I can also tell people, ‘Hey, you need to be quiet.’ Or if people are getting upset and they don’t know who to tell, they can come to me. I’m more of the friend leader.

ART CASEY CALLAHAN What is your history with art?

In fourth grade I started private art lessons, and we explored a lot of different mediums that I hadn’t heard of before. I have always enjoyed using my hands to do things. It’s relaxing to me, and it has always been something that has just come naturally to me.

What awards have you won throughout high school?

How have your performing experiences prepared you for the future?

Orchestra ANNABELLE ABISSET What first inspired you to begin playing the violin?

I remember my preschool teacher played it for us all the time. It was like the coolest thing, and I thought, ‘I want to do that!’ That made me want to start playing. I started playing when I was 5 for about a year, and then we moved, so I didn’t start again until I was 10, so I’ve probably been playing for eight years now.

One of the last projects we did was the charcoal eye, and I won a Gold Key this year for it. I won one Gold Key this year, but I don’t remember how many I’ve won over the four years. I’ve actually also won a national Silver Key for a still life I did in Art Foundations, and that was really cool because I got to go to New York City for that award.

What have been your favorite experiences playing the violin?

Do you plan on pursuing art in the future?

Do you plan to continue playing the violin after high school?

I’m going to Nebraska Weselyan, and I’m going to major in psychology and art, and after I graduate I’m going to go to graduate school, probably in Chicago, for art therapy. Art therapy is usually used for children, but not limited to children. And it’s just another form of therapy through art.

I play in a chamber group at the Omaha Conservatory of Music. We kind of focus on wedding songs to get gigs, but we played a concert in January at this church in Benson, which was a lot of fun. We played with some faculty from the conservatory, so that was a lot of fun.

I know it’s probably hard to get into be a professional musician, but different symphonies would definitely be something I want to consider. I’ve found that it’s a lot of fun to play in a group.

BAND Jordan Rys What instrument do you play?

I play the clarinet, keyboards, and drums. Clarinet I began playing at school, so I learned it mostly from instructors. But keyboards I started playing by ear. I had a week of lessons — didn’t like them — so I just started playing on my own.

Have you done anything with music outside of school?

I’ve been in a band before with my friends, and I played keyboards. It wasn’t really an official band, but we would just get together and jam and improvise things. And then people wanted us to do that other places, so we would bring all of our instruments and play. Since joining band, it’s become easy for me to create my own music.

What are your plans for the future with music?

I want music to stay in my life, but I’ve always really admired movies, so I want to become a director or producer, and I want to be able to incorporate music into the stuff I’m doing.

May 2, 2014 11


Motor accident leaves sophomores with life lesson By connor flairty news editor “Kids will be kids.” The phrase has been heard over and over again. No matter what the generation, it seems many teens will be reckless and make mistakes. For some, it’s just part of “growing up,” but for sophomore Nick Trude, “growing up” took a dangerous turn. “I was being stupid, simple as that,” Trude said. Trude was camping with his friends Saturday, April 5 in rural Iowa and doing what many teens do: being reckless. While attempting a “cookie” on a gravel cul-de-sac, Trude’s 1997 Ford Explorer kicked out. The back wheels hit the grass near the road, sending the vehicle flipping one and a half times. Trude was not wearing a seat belt during the crash and suffered the consequences. “It all felt like a huge migraine,” Trude said. Trude was left with seven fractured bones in his skull and face due to bouncing around during the crash and hitting his head multiple times. During the crash, Trude wasn’t alone. In the passenger’s seat, sophomore Sam Arnold was unscathed, even without a seat belt. Arnold helped the injured driver through the back trunk to get him to safety and receive help. Fortunately, Arnold remained cool under pressure. “All I remember was him saying that he was bleeding badly,” Arnold said. “I didn’t know what to do, but I just kept reassuring Nick and calming myself down and got him to safety.” Arnold’s swift actions led to Trude getting to a hospital. After an examination, Trude realized the severity of his injuries and how lucky he really was. “I always stayed really positive,” Trude said. “I mean, I was still alive.”

After only a couple of days of ICU treatment, Trude was released from intensive care. It was then when he realized he would be okay. “It was a huge relief,” Trude said “I was going to be alright. I was going to live.” The skull injuries inflicted on Trude caused brain swelling, which in turn affected his vision. He also suffered a temporal bone fracture that caused his hearing to go dark in his left ear. Still, considering what could have happened, Trude feels extremely fortunate. “All the doctors told me was how lucky I was to be alive and how close I really was to dying,” Trude said. All in all, Trude was lucky, and he will be able to to play contact football again within six months. However, many are not so lucky. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 2,700 teens aged 16-19 died in motor related accidents in 2010 alone. Though many teens have an invincible attitude, the numbers don’t lie. The mixture of inexperience behind the wheel and a common Bullet Proof mentality can be deadly. This explains why the age group of 16-24 accounts for 30% of all motor accidents while only making up 14% of the actual population. For teen drivers, there is a simple solution: take precautions. Simply putting on a seat belt reduces injuries induced in motor accidents by 50% according to the CDC. Trude found this out the hard way as a seat belt would have most likely saved him a trip to the hospital. This experience will stick with Trude forever as a valuable lesson. “I feel that I’m going to be so much more safe,” Trude said. “Now I understand the danger of car wrecks, and I understand that next time I might not be so lucky.”



ALl the doctors told me how lucky I was to be alive and how close I really was to dying. Nick Trude sophomore

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Above: Students attempt to turn sophomore Nick Trude’s car upright after the crash Saturday, April 5 in rural Iowa. Left: Blood is left of the door of Trude’s car after the vehicle flipped one and a half times. Trude was released to ICU treatment after a couple days of intensive care. Photos courtesy of Jackson Gates

12 May 8, 2014



Russian exchange student adjusts to America By Jace Wieseler A&E Editor 4,906 miles away from her home, it’s her first time in an unknown country, and she loves every minute of it. Sophomore Kseniya Fedorova is an exchange student from the city of Veliky Novgorod, Russia. Fedorova describes it as a beautiful city with seasons that make this old town exquisite. Fedorova won an exchange program called Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) last year and has been here since August. “It felt amazing [to win FLEX],” Fedorova said. “It was something I was working on for a whole year, and when you achieve something, it’s really nice to know that you’ve worked for it and that you deserve it.” To win FLEX, Fedorova had to go through “rounds” to see if she was capable of living life in America. Some of the things she had to do were know English pretty well and have some specific qualities like being a leader, being flexible and being able to overcome problems. “I had some culture shock [once I got to Omaha],” Fedorova said. “So my first month here, I don’t remember anything. I felt like I was dreaming.” Everything about America surprised her, even the smallest things. “I remember the first time I went to the Bookworm,” Fedorova said. “All I could think is ‘This bookstore is huge’, because in Russia all the bookstores are tiny.” In Russia, school is different from American school in more ways than one. Fedorova went to a high school with shorter school days and only 200 students, compared to the nearly 2,000 students at Westside. She also had a standard curriculum, which meant she was unable to choose the classes she took. Fedorova’s American Literature teacher, Jordan Klepfer, has helped her with her transition to a new country. She said he has taught her new ways to express herself and be a better person. “In some ways it’s easier [to teach Fedorova than other students] because of her desire to learn,” Klepfer said. “She is very enthusiastic about learning.” Although Fedorova has learned many things from Klepfer, she has taught him a few things in her journey to understand American Literature. “She taught me that the American paradigm isn’t always right,” Klepfer said. “She helped me understand that the Russian perspective on things, though unique and very different from the American one, is not to be discounted.” Besides the school system, the whole American culture shocked Fedorova. “Here, people are [more friendly] with you even if they don’t know you,” Fedorova said. “If you smile at an unknown person in Russia, he will think you’re crazy.”

Fedorova believes America has many benefits, but there are some disadvantages to moving her life across the globe. “I can’t normally contact my family and friends,” Fedorova said. “I can only contact them like once a month. Another huge disadvantage is when I go back to Russia I will be a sophomore again because I can’t just pass my exams without preparing.” In Fedorova’s case, the good outweighs the bad. She sees her year abroad as a positive experience. Fedorova is hoping to come back again for college or possibly even sooner, because she has learned more things here and made a lot of friends. “I hope to study here in America in two or three years, but I also have a dream to travel around the world,” Fedorova said. “I would like to go to Finland, Ireland, England and Japan.” For now, Fedorova is hoping to get the most out of her time left here in America. “I have some plans to go to the zoo, because I hear it’s pretty famous, and [I plan to] just spend as much time as I can with my friends before I have to go back,” Fedorova said.

Sophomore Kseniya Fedorova practices vocabulary words in German class Tuesday, April 29 in room 123. She hopes to come back to the U.S. in two or three years, but also has plans to travel the world. Photo by Estella Fox


Junior accepts challenges, responsibilities that comes with large family By Nata Ward Feature EDITOR

Above: Junior Abbey Bessmer and her horse, Maddie, stand outside the Bessmers’ family farm in Blair, NE. The family purchased the land on Christmas Eve of last year. Right: The Bessmer family poses together at their church, St. Robert Bellarmine, on Easter. Abbey is one of 16 siblings in her family. Photos courtesy of Abbey Bessmer

It was early Sunday morning when junior Abbey Bessmer’s younger sister Leah snuck into her room. She needed Abbey to drive their younger brother to practice. Her mother was sick, Leah told her, and Abbey was in charge of her younger siblings for the day. All ten of them. Usually that means making sure all of the kids are up and dressed at an appropriate time, and providing rides to musical practice and any other place her siblings need to be. Abbey then had to get herself ready, make sure breakfast was running smoothly and keep the kids away from her mom sleeping on the couch. “I’m hungry, I want some breakfast,” said her younger brother Levi, one of three children the family adopted from Ethiopia. He was headed for the living room. Abbey steered him into the kitchen. Levi is 3 years old. Abbey is 17, making her the sixth oldest of the 16 children in her family. The older ones, like her, had to set a good example. They had to be patient, respectful and responsible. They had to be ready for change. Adapting to change to take care of her family is one of the things that has earned Bessmer the title of “mini-mom” at the household. It’s a name that she wears with pride. “I’ve been like a mother my whole life,” Abbey said. “In fact, the little kids will come up to me and pat me on the leg and call me ‘mom’ because they think I’m mom. Even if all my older siblings are home, they still know I’m in charge.” Taking care of her siblings is a great responsibility, but it is one that Abbey gladly takes on. “I love being around kids, and I can’t wait until the day I am a mother,” Abbey said. “This is just a little hint to show me what it’s going to be like. Later on in life, when I am a mother, I think that nothing will scare me because I’ve seen it all with my siblings.”

One of the challenges that she has faced is learning how to adapt to different environments. For example, her family purchased a farm on Christmas Eve of last year. “At the farm it’s different, because everyone does their own thing,” Abbey said. “The boys jump on the go-karts and the mini bikes. I would say I still feel like I need to keep an eye on them because there’s a pond there. So you have to make sure you know where the little ones are at all times.” Last year, the Bessmers were featured in the Omaha World-Herald, and Abbey was eager to read the article. Before her newspaper arrived that day, she decided to read the article online, but the comments surprised her. One that stood out to her mentioned global warming, saying it was ridiculous to adopt kids when “global warming is coming” and “there won’t be enough to feed people.” “That just really made me angry because they don’t even know us,” Abbey said. There are always mixed reactions when Abbey tells people about her family. Some are amazed at how welcoming the family is to adopt three children, but others — like those few who commented on the World-Herald article — disapprove. “I think some people think that I can’t have a normal life because of how many siblings I have, and because they think I need to spend all of my time doing that stuff,” Abbey said. “I think it does change how people look at me, but it’s who I am and if they don’t like it, then bummer.” Regardless of what others think, to the Bessmer kids, family is everything. “It’s a blessing to have that many people in your family,” said Abbey’s younger brother, freshman Simon Bessmer. “There’s always something going on in the house. There’s always a little kid falling down the stairs. I mean, there’s always something exciting happening. I couldn’t have asked for a better family.”

May 2, 2014 13



Junior looks to continue success in jumping events By Tim Graves Sports EDITOR Jumping has always been a part of junior Hayley Krumwiede’s life. Even though she has only competed for two years in high school, she has accomplished more than other competitors can dream of. She has participated in triple jump and long jump for five years, but unlike years in the past when she also played other sports, this year she is only focusing on track. But that doesn’t mean Krumwiede doesn’t put in work. “It’s a lot of commitment,” Krumwiede said. “It takes a lot of time. It’s still fun, though, because you get to travel a lot with it.” Krumwiede played freshman volleyball and basketball, along with her track career. “Jumping has always been my favorite,” Krumwiede said. “It has been my best, but I still have the most fun.” Krumwiede has had a very successful high school jumping career. She placed 6th in the triple jump in the Nebraska state tournament as a sophomore, and also placed 14th in the long jump. Krumwiede was disappointed with the result of the triple jump event because she was seeded first going into the state meet. “It was upsetting,” Krumwiede said. “It was upsetting because I didn’t win. I went in seeded first, but I didn’t finish first. For me, it was not good enough.” Krumwiede was not able to hit her personal record in the state tournament. Her personal record is 37’-.025, which would have placed second in the state tournament. “I set my personal record freshman year,”

Krumwiede said. “I broke it at the South Sioux City meet my sophomore year. At state you always want to do your best. If I had hit my PR I would have done better.” Because of her success at the high school level, Krumwiede was able to participate in the National Junior Olympics in 2012 and 2013 in Baltimore, MD. “It was scary to compete,” Krumwiede said. “It was really eye-opening. It was cool to see competition not only from your region, but from your country. I had competed with some people from the Midwest, so it was different to see people from other countries.” This year Krumwiede is one of the most experienced varsity athletes on the team. She will be looked at as a leader going forward. “I think I have been looked at as a leader since freshman year,” Krumwiede said. “Once you start winning meets you begin to be looked at as a leader. Gaining the coaches’ trust and young girls’ trust is a big factor for track, even though it is an individual sport.” Krumwiede has started off well this year. She has won two varsity meets in the long jump, and one in the triple jump. She has placed in the top three at all of her meets. Krumwiede also participates in the 4 x 100-meter dash, 100-meter dash, and 200-meter dash. In the 200-meter dash she was able to qualify for the state tournament last year with a time of 26.42 seconds. As she works had to reach her goals, Krumwiede will lead by example. “I want to beat my PR’s in both long and triple jump,” Krumwiede said. “I also just don’t want to win state, I want to win all-class for both triple and long jump. Also, if I beat my PR I will set the Westside record, which would be cool.”

Junior Hayley Krumwiede competes in the long jump at the Millard South Invitational held Saturday, April 12. She placed 3rd with a jump of 16-05.75. Photo by Jakob Phillips

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

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14 May 2, 2014



Westside athletes commit to colleges early By James Buckley Sports Writer It’s the same routine every game. Go into the locker room, get into uniform, fire up the pregame rituals, then go onto the field and win for your team and your school. Many high school athletes don’t know where they will go through these rituals at the next level. However, several Westside athletes knew where they would compete early in their high school career. For senior Jake Meyers and junior Michelle Xiao, the decision of committing to the colleges of their choice early was easy. “For girls soccer, all the girls commit early,” Xiao said. “You have to commit early so the recruiting classes don’t fill up, and I had always wanted to go to Stanford.” To get recruited early, Xiao attended Stanford camps in hopes of being noticed by recruiters. Meyers’ decision was an easy one. He only visited once before he committed to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “I went down there for a football game on an unofficial visit the fall of my sophomore year, and before the game they pulled me in and offered [for baseball],” Meyers said. “It was my dream school, so I obviously said yes.” Since these two athletes were able to go to their dream schools, the stress of going on visits and attending recruiting camps was lessened. Senior Summer Khalil and junior Mary Novoa, who both committed to Creighton for soccer, still had to make their decisions after camps and visits. “I got scholarships from Iowa, UNL, UNO and TCU,” Khalil said. “It was a hard decision because I knew Creighton was interested, but the coach was bad at communicating at first.” Novoa’s biggest concern was how big of a school she wanted to go to. “I was debating between going to Creighton or another school in Colorado,” Novoa said. “I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to go D1 or D2, but when I met with the Creighton coach [Bruce Erickson], I knew that it would be a good fit for me.” For most athletes, getting into college for athletics is an uphill battle. Take women’s soccer athletes, for example: there are over 370,000 girls high school soccer players in America, but of that group, only about 35,000 go on to play in college throughout all levels. Considering how hard it is to be recruited, being recruited early just adds more to the accomplishment. One drawback of committing early, though, is not being able to change choices later. “It is difficult because I feel like there could have been other schools that I would have also been interested in,” Novoa said. “Overall I am happy with my decision, though. The longer you wait, the harder it is to get recruited.”

Another drawback of committing early is the extra pressure college coaches put players under once they’re committed. “Being committed is a big responsibility, especially in town, because the coaches are all around,” Khalil said. Something as little as a picture on Twitter could lose an athlete a scholarship offer. Still, there are advantages of committing early. Athletes can focus more on preparing for college in high school, since they already know where they are headed. “I just want to get better because the level of play at Stanford is high,” Xiao said. “I still have to focus on soccer and academics because the bar is so high.” Even though committing early has advantages and disadvantages, it’s something for athletes to consider, especially if they have the chance to commit to their ideal college. “If it’s your dream school and it’s what you’ve wanted to do your whole life, then yes, commit early,” Meyers said. “Show them that this is where you want to be, and they’ll be just as excited about you going there.”

Senior Summer Khalil guards the ball against a Lincoln Pius X defender Tuesday, April 1 on the Westside field. Khalil was one of several athletes who committed to compete at the college level their junior year. Photo by Clair Selby


may 21, 2014




#Omahagives2westside The madness starts at midnight on May 21, 2014. To donate, go to and click on Westside Community Schools Foundation, Inc. We have 24 hours to get as many donations possible. Use the hashtag #OmahaGives2Westside to help spread the word about the campaign.

w w w. o m a h ag i v e s 2 4 . o r g

ARTS & ENTERtainment

May 2, 2014 15

Diverse stories on display in student-produced plays BY LIBBY SELINE STAFF WRITER One summer night did not turn out as expected for senior Amber Kischer. Before heading to bed, she read Emily Dickinson’s poem “I Never Lost as Much but Twice.” Kischer began to visualize the characters in the poem and a scene with two people began to play in her head. Instead of going to bed, she developed a family for these characters and thought about where they might live. Six hours later, these characters developed into Marcey Jones and Rodger Berkley, the two main characters in her play For Pete’s Sake. For Pete’s Sake is one of four one-act plays that will be performed April 30 through May 2 in the Little Theater. For the first time, Westside seniors enrolled in theater were given the opportunity to write and direct their own plays through a new program at Westside called Project 66. Students involved in the program can now understand what it is like to be a director instead of an actor. “Directing and acting are two completely different worlds,” Kischer said. “I love acting. I love the ability to become another person, to live in another world. I also love directing because then I get to create that world.” Besides Kischer, seniors Daniel Keller, Kylea Mathison and Sandra Adams are involved in Project 66. At different times this year, students have written their plays and gone through a series of edits to help develop them properly. These plays all cover different topics that the seniors have got through inspiration or a sudden thought. Keller’s play, Accident, started as a random idea, but he hopes it will end up a success. “It’s a seriously dramatic and real play that I think will leave the audience on the edge of their seats,” Keller said. “I’d like to say it will be as successful as this year’s musical production of Into the Woods, but I’m really just excited to get it out into the community as a whole.” Accident uses main character Peter Capaldi’s flashbacks to tell how he accidentally killed his father. These flashbacks come to Capaldi as he is being interrogated about his father’s death and help move the play along.

Unlike Keller’s play, Mathison and Adams’ plays were partially inspired by personal connections and experiences. Adams’s play, Back Home, tells the story of a Christian Arabic family that left Iraq to live in America. Fifteen years after the move, the family reunites with others back in Iraq to celebrate Christmas. Throughout the play, the audience is supposed to be made aware of the cultural differences between Americans and Arabians. “I want to show them that the American culture is totally different from other cultures in the world,” Adams said. “I feel like a lot of people don’t know a lot of cultures, but I feel that it is important to learn about different cultures.” Like the characters in her play, Adams is a Christian Arabian, and she spent the first 12 years of her life in Iraq. She used her experiences from Iraq in her play, even though she initially got the idea for the play from a movie about a man struggling to adapt to the Arabian culture. “That [movie] kind of sparked the idea that I wanted to do something about culture,” Adams said. “I experienced that [change in culture] because I am from Iraq and I have been living here for almost six years, so I just felt like it was the right thing to do.” Mathison’s idea for her play, Break, came to her as she started realizing how hard it would be to have a disability and attend Westside. She thought this was an overlooked issue and realized people should know more about it. She also received inspiration for this play through her great-aunt, who has been paralyzed since she was 15 years old. “My aunt just kind of had to change her whole life,” said Mathison. “She’s just a really influential role model.” Like the main character in the play, her aunt was a cheerleader and had to adapt to a new lifestyle after becoming paralyzed. Mathison hopes the audience gets more out of the play than just a character adapting, and hopes they will be able to connect the story to their own life. As Mathison has been writing her play, she has learned a valuable lesson that she hopes the audience will understand too. “I am writing my play, but I feel like play is writing itself and teaching me,” Mathison said. “The whole process has taught me that people are more than activities and things and the stuff they accomplish.”



I want my audience to fall in love with the characters. AMBER KISCHEr STUDENT DIRECTOR






7834 Dodge St.


12997 W. Center


1109 Howard St.


Juniors Connor O’Doherty and Kasey Rose rehearse Monday, April 28 in the auditorium for their upcoming performance. For the first time, seniors were given the opportunity to write and direct their own plays in a new program called Project 66. Photo by Sarah Lemke Kischer also hopes her audience will learn a lesson by watching her play. Her characters are forced to separate from each other and through this journey her characters take, Kischer wishes her audience will be able to relate the play back to their own life. “I want my audience to fall in love with the characters,” Kischer said. “I want them to relate to the story and get a better sense of understanding in their own lives. I want them to be inspired.” As the audience watches the plays, they will also notice how these plays are different from each other. “All our plays are different,” Keller said. “They contrast in different ways and draw parallels in others. I’m really excited to see what everyone brings to the table.” Tickets for Project 66 are $4 for students and $6 for adults. The first play starts at 7 p.m.

arts & entertainment

16 May 2, 2014

t s e B STUDY


We started our journey at the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Criss Library. The library, which is open until 12 a.m. on school nights, is a hotbed of Westside students during finals. Parking can be a hassle, as the lots are often full and non-UNO students and faculty are not permitted to park in the lots on school days. However, once you get in, this library has everything you need to study effectively. The library offers a number of different types of chairs and tables. In the basement, which is the area of the library typically taken over by Westsiders during finals, students can find anything from lounge chairs for casual, comfortable studying to large tables with booth seating for a more social group study session. And all of this seating comes free: the library doesn’t require the purchase of a drink like the other options on our list. While cost and seating are a big draw for this

Photos by Sarah Lemke

CAFFEINE DREAMS Next, we visited Caffeine Dreams, located at 4524 Farnam Street. While the building is unassuming from the outside, with a red brick construction, the inside presents a studying adventure. As we entered, the drink and food menu, along with the smell of coffee, jumped out. From a coffee to stay awake during a late-night study session to the smoothies and sandwiches, which provide a filling option when hunger strikes, there is something for everyone and any time of the day at Caffeine Dreams. After a drink has been chosen, a left turn into the seating area showcases the art-covered walls, and couches and tables for studying. But the real

By AREN RENDELL, CONNOR FLAIRTY EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, NEWS EDITOR study spot, it also offers one thing our other spots do not: access to books, journals, databases and a librarian, which can all be useful in researching for projects, papers and more. Westside students can access a number of educational tools through Westside’s database subscriptions. When connected to the UNO library wi-fi, even more of these resources are available. And of course, Westside’s librarians are only at Westside during school hours, but UNO’s librarians are available during library hours. We talked to UNO Government Documents Librarian James Shaw, who explained that UNO’s library spends $2 million a year on reading material, and approximately a fourth of that money goes towards online resources. He explained that Westside students are free to access these resources by visiting the library’s website, library.unomaha. edu, while on the library wifi. He added that the librarians are more than willing to help Westside

gem at Caffeine Dreams is the outdoor seating area. Going up the stairs and out the door leads to a wooden patio surrounded by trees and a tall, wooden fence to block out noise. Weather permitting, this can be the most relaxing yet efficient place to study. The patio is quiet, and a bit of sunlight can’t hurt when you’re trying to work. Caffeine Dreams, outdoor seating area and all, is open late compared to other coffee shops, staying open until 11 p.m. on school nights and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. In comparison, Crane Coffee on 77th and Cass Streets, our final top study spot, is only open until 9 p.m. This coffee shop is certainly worth a stop when looking for a place to study, especially later in the evening or on a sunny day.


Our final stop was Crane Coffee. The staff’s friendliness left us wanting to come back. They were full of smiles and kept asking if we needed help with anything. If you want to study here and sunlight creeping in through the windows is bothering you, ask the staff if they would mind closing them, and they will certainly oblige. (We didn’t even have to ask. They simply offered). But friendly staff aside, this coffee shop has a perfect seating area for studying. A room with couches in the back provides a perfect location for studying in comfort either alone or with study partners. If you aren’t one for studying on a couch,

there are tables and chairs in the main part of the building that offer the quiet and comfort necessary to cram for a big test. Crane Coffee also offers a menu just as excellent for studying as the one at Caffeine Dreams, with numerous coffee drinks and a top-notch smoothie menu of its own. We opted for tea and muffins (the staff talked us into getting Morning Glory muffins, and we were glad they did), which can be a nice change of pace from coffee. Overall, Crane Coffee is the smallest of the three study spots, but the staff and the couch room make this one equally as good as the other two. Plus, it is the closest to Westside High School.

Westside graduate writes pilot for TV Land BY JACE WIESELER A&E Editor Westside graduate Katie O’Brien began her acting career within these hallways. Now her web show, which she created with the Katydids, a group of six female performers all named various spellings of Katie, is being made into a television show called “TEACHERS.” The comedy show is about six elementary school teachers from the Midwest with personal lives that are a bit askew, unfortunately they can’t help but bring their problems into the classroom. While studying improv in Chicago after high school, O’Brien and the other Katydids started posting different comedy videos online, which soon became popular. “A casting director in Chicago named Matt Miller, had the idea for ‘TEACHERS’ and came to us and said, ‘I have this idea, what do you guys think?’” O’Brien said. “We loved it, started writing it, and sort of took it from there.” Cate Freedman, a member of The Katydids and cast member of “TEACHERS,” is a close friend of O’Brien, as well as her co-star. “We met on a student film in 2008 when we were both 19,” Freedman said. “It was low-budget so there was no hair and makeup, and I didn’t know how to put makeup on. Katie, being the saint that she is, helped me. I’ve clung to her leg ever since.” The web show was created about a year ago. The Katydids were getting a lot of attention from comedy shows such as “The Onion,” “Funny or Die,” and “Above Average,” all wanting to partner with them. Now TV Land network has ordered a pilot for “TEACHERS,” and if the network likes it, it will become a regular TV show. “If the show does get picked up, we expect it to be very similar to the web series in terms of tone and comedy,”

O’Brien said. “We expect it be a funny TV show that will hopefully have a long life on TV Land.” Like O’Brien, Freedman hopes the TV show will go far. “I am constantly in awe of the other Katydids and what they do on a daily basis, in their professional and personal lives,” Freedman said. “So in my mind, my heroes can’t lose and they are kind enough to take me with them.” If the show does not get picked up, O’Brien and Freedman still see this as a positive experience. “With this being The Katydids’ first attempt at TV, we are really getting a wonderful education regarding the industry in the process,” Freedman said. In the show, O’Brien plays a character that hits pretty close to home. “[The character I play] is very much from Omaha,” O’Brien said. “She’s very sweet. And she gets along with everybody. I wanted her to be from there, and kind of have that as a backdrop to who she is.” Although O’Brien lives in Los Angeles, her family still lives in Omaha, so she loves to come back as often as she can. “Omaha has provided me with so many wonderful opportunities that I’ve carried with me,” O’Brien said. Westside in particular helped O’Brien on her path to make her life the way it is today. “I felt like Westside did a lot for me,” O’Brien said. “I always really wanted to perform, and I feel like Westside made it appear as a possibility.” O’Brien appeared in as many of Westside’s theater productions as she could, including Footloose, The Crucible, The Odd Couple, and Amadeus. “At the time, Westside’s theater program did a great job at fostering funny women,” O’Brien said. “I think if I had gone to a different high school, like Marian or Duchesne, I don’t think I would be doing what I’m doing today.” Today, O’Brien continues to be an entertaining woman,

Westside graduate Katie O’Brien poses for a headshot. O’Brien’s television show, “TEACHERS,” is a work in progress on the network station TV Land. Photo courtesy of Katie O’Brien focusing on bringing smiles to people’s faces. “Laughter is just a cool thing,” O’Brien said. “It’s something everybody enjoys, so I guess I just like making other people laugh.”

Lance Issue 8  

The May 2, 2014 issue of Westside High School's newspaper, the Lance.

Lance Issue 8  

The May 2, 2014 issue of Westside High School's newspaper, the Lance.