spring 2016 newsletter

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A publication of the



Warriors in the Kitchen by Ricky Anderson (‘05)

Clayton Chapman, Class of 2004 “I was about 16, at Westside, when I decided cooking is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.” Clayton Chapman attended Loveland Elementary and has fond memories of the “socials” with his friends. He also recalls having a great time during “Life Lab” at Westside Middle School which included a mix of industrial arts and home economics courses. Clayton also loved working with his hands in pottery class in high school. Left to right: Jennifer (Militti) Coco, Class of 1988; Clayton Chapman, Class of 2004; Benjamin Maides, Class of 2004

Omaha restaurants featuring creative and delicious plates are easy to find these days. According to Livability.com, Omaha was ranked #2 on the Top 10 list of best Foodie Cities in America. Omaha was recognized for having a wonderful variety of great food with a focus on farm-to-table ingredients. What you may not realize is that it could be a fellow alumnus behind the grill or sauce pan crafting your next tasty meal. Alumni across the globe have a variety of incredible talents and passions that blossomed while at Westside; for these three alumni, it was cooking that fanned their fires. Jennifer (Militti) Coco, Class of 1988 An alumna of Paddock Road Elementary, Jennifer made some of her best friends at Westside High School. She gave a slight chuckle when recalling memories of high school and said, “I’m impressed I managed to graduate considering all the classes I skipped.” After graduation, Jennifer pursued a political science degree but couldn’t afford law school on her own, so she started cooking to save money. That’s when her love for cooking was born. Skipping culinary school,

Project Name: WSF002-03 Spring 2016 Newsletter Client: Westside Foundation Color: CMYK Size: 8.5” x 11” finished size

Jennifer learned her skills in the kitchen at various restaurants, including The Flatiron Café in downtown Omaha. Jennifer received recognition as a semifinalist for Best Chef in the Midwest by The James Beard Foundation in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Clayton spent a lot of time helping his mother in the kitchen. “My mother is a great cook,” Clayton said. “But her talents went under appreciated until I was a teenager.”

In addition to his experiences cooking at home with his mother, Clayton’s culinary journey began to take root during Foods 1 and 2 classes with Mrs. Losen. Because of modular scheduling, Clayton was able to work nights in restaurants at “This profession chose me,” says Jennifer. a young age and start class later in the morning. Regularly working over 80 hours a week, After graduation, he studied cuisine at The Illinois constantly missing holidays, birthdays, Institute of Art in Chicago. weddings, and the daily struggle to spend time The Grey Plume, Clayton’s Omaha midtown with her children are all part of running her own restaurant, has drawn a lot of attention from restaurant. Regardless, Jennifer confesses, “I industry professionals and culinary experts can’t imagine doing anything else. I love what alike. Known for its locally sourced ingredients I do; I love coming to the restaurant every and focus on sustainability, the restaurant was morning and cooking for people.” Thanks to recognized in 2015 as America’s Greenest her passion and commitment, we all can enjoy Restaurant by The Daily Meal. Clayton and The a memorable dining experience with friends Grey Plume have also earned top spots on five and family. occasions amongst national semifinalists in the Jennifer’s restaurant, J. Coco, is located on coveted James Beard Restaurant and Best Chef 52nd and Leavenworth and is open for lunch Midwest Category in 2015 as well as in four Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and previous years. dinner Monday-Saturday from 5 p.m. to The Grey Plume is located at 220 South 31st close. Also, keep an eye out for Jennifer’s Avenue and is open Monday through Saturday newest culinary adventure opening Fall 2016 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Omaha’s Dundee neighborhood on the southeast corner of 50th and Underwood (Continued on page 2) Streets.

What a fun time of year to be a Warrior. Our community is buzzing with spring activity, graduation plans, and dreams of summer break. Our school district is busy, busy, busy getting “West Campus” (formerly known as the Westside Community Conference Center and Valley View Junior High) ready to be our swing school and welcome Oakdale students in August. Contractors are finalizing plans to start rebuilding Oakdale. If you have not seen the plans for our school renovations, please go view them at: imagineadistrict.org. Speaking of Oakdale, save the date! Celebrate Oakdale’s past and future on Sunday, May 22 from 1-3 pm at Oakdale Elementary School. Alumni, community, students, parents and teachers are invited. You can find details on the Oakdale Elementary’s Facebook page. This month, our “Warrior Pride” feature highlights three successful alumni that excel in their kitchens. These award-winning professional chefs are a terrific example of how Westside High School curriculum, programing, and modular schedule often help advance and inspire our students at a young age. Their Westside course work and modular scheduling allowed these chefs to develop an early passion for their craft. I can’t wait to get to their restaurants.

Warriors in the Kitchen (Continued from page 1) Benjamin Maides, Class of 2004 After graduating culinary school in 2006, Benjamin Maides spent time in Colorado, California and Italy working in various restaurants, learning new concepts and continuing to focus on his craft. “My favorite memory at Westside is the time spent in the pottery room during open mods. I really enjoyed taking woods, welding and foods classes,” Benjamin said. He figured out early in life that he loved cooking while helping his mother in the kitchen and enjoying family meals at his Swiss grandmother’s house. He has also worked at España in Omaha’s Benson district, and Avoli Osteria in the Dundee neighborhood. As an up-and-coming chef in Omaha, Benjamin was cooking at The Market House in Omaha’s historic Old Market until it was damaged from the tragic M’s Pub fire on January 9, 2016. Taking advantage of the unexpected free time, Benjamin took a month-long trip to Switzerland and Germany, working in three different restaurants and expanding his palette and skills. “I would like to do some more pop up restaurants,” Benjamin said. “And hopefully, someday I’ll have a restaurant to call my own.” As you can see, the Warriors in the kitchen do not mess around. They provide some of the best cuisine in the city. Bon Appetit!

Our Spring Edition always includes reunion details. If you are in the class of 1966, 1971, 1976, 1986, 1991, 1996, or 2006—be sure to check out the reunion news and contacts on page 3. You do not want to miss a chance to see your old cronies. The Alumni Association wants to wish Maryanne Ricketts well as she enters retirement in May. Mrs. Ricketts is a Westside treasure that will be missed. Our new Principal, Jay Opperman, has big shoes to fill. Welcome to Warrior Nation, Mr. Opperman. It is always fun to share with our alumni what the Alumni Association has been up to over the past year. We are proud to have filled a number of items on Westside’s “Wish List.” Please take a second to see how our resources were deployed this year to help keep Westside High School a special place. Wish list details are found on page 4. The Alumni Association belongs to each and every alumnus. If you want to be involved, or have an idea that could help us serve our alumni, please email alumni@westside66.net I hope you enjoy our spring edition of the “W”. Have a terrific summer.

$10 NOW



Spring 2016



MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN OUR DISTRICT Now more than ever, giving a little bit can make a big difference in our schools. Every dollar donated will be used to fund the good works of the Westside Foundation–those that touch every child in every classroom, for example: • Outdoor Education

• Science and Technology

• Performing Arts

• Classroom Grants

A gift of any size is appreciated. Donations may be made through May 25. www.omahagives24.org www.wcsfoundation66.org

GO Warriors! Jason B. Hellman (’90) www.wcsfoundation66.org


REUNIONS 1966: 50th Reunion | July 22–23, 2016 Friday, 7–10 pm, “Re-Meet” & Greet Reception Regency Lake & Tennis Club (Cash Bar) Saturday, 7–10 pm, Henry Doorly Zoo African Lodge & Grasslands REGISTER ONLINE: ReunionDB.com FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/groups/WestsideHSclassof66

If you know any classmates who do not use the Internet or social media, please ask them if you can share their information with us. We want to be sure that ALL of our classmates are invited! ONLINE: www.sites.google.com/site/whsalumni1976/Events FACEBOOK: Omaha Westside High School class of 1976 www.facebook.com/groups/OmahaWestside1976

CONTACT: Ken Bird, Ken Hermsen or Dave DeBuse westsidehsclassof66@gmail.com 402-505-6814

CONTACT: Reunion Planning Committee omahawestside1976@gmail.com

1971: 45th Reunion | July 8–9, 2016

1986: 30th Reunion | July 22–23, 2016

Shriners Temple, 84th & Center Friday, 6–11:45 pm Tickets $40 / person Saturday, 6 pm–midnight Tickets $45 / person

Friday, Cedar Bar at Countryside Village

There will be an additional $5 fee per night for registration after June 15 and/or payment at the door. Donations to help fund classmates who need financial assistance in order to attend will be accepted with your payment. If you are in need of financial assistance, please contact Kim Rice at nonikim@cox.net. Activities include: Delicious food guaranteed! Great conversations. Professional photography both nights. Live magician classmate Bruce Erickson (Friday night). Live music jam session by former classmates (Saturday night, 9 pm–midinight). Come out for a friendly game of golf Saturday morning at Eagle Run Executive Course at 10:00 am. Contact Ric Jensen (jensenrice@aol.com) to RSVP.

Saturday, The Session Room 1502 Mike Fahey Street, Omaha, NE ONLINE: www.westside86.com/schedule FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/groups/westside86 CONTACT: Diana Womack Clark, diana.pisces68@gmail.com

1991: 25th Reunion | May 28, 2016 We are planning an informal night of catching up and fun on Saturday, May 28, 7 pm at Brickway Brewery. CONTACTS: Edwin Covert, edwincovert@gmail.com Joy Veylupek, mygirljoy@hotmail.com Jeff Luby, jrluby95@gmail.com

Be sure to check your mailboxes for more information and to register in early May.

1996: 20th Reunion | July 29–30, 2016

CONTACT: Kim Rice at nonikim@cox.net

Friday, informal gathering at Cedars Bar in Countryside Village Saturday, 7 pm–midnight, Tim Huyck and Tim McGill’s farm

1976: 40 Reunion | October 14–15, 2016 th

Friday, Omaha Design Center Saturday, October 15 will be held at Embassy Suites in the Old Market. A block of rooms will be available at a discounted price on a first-come, first-served basis for Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Additional details to be posted soon! If you need to update your address please e-mail omahawestside1976@gmail.com. Be sure to provide your maiden name (if applicable).

REGISTER (Saturday event): www.eventbrite.com (Westside ‘96: 20 year reunion) COMMITTEE: Kalen Karnes Strickland, Courtney Smith, Tim Huyck, Tim McGill and Scott Bovick CONTACT: Scott Bovick is bov9@hotmail.com

2006: 10th Reunion CONTACT: Jayme Fowler, jayme.fowler@gmail.com

Spring 2016

Alumni Association Funds $8,800 for Westside “Wish List”

“Wish List” gifts are made possible by proceeds from the Westside Open Golf Outing. Thank you to everyone who supports this event. Vocal Music: Yamaha keyboard, $500

Art: photo printer, $800 Band: euphonium, $500

Westside Wired: TV, $1,700

Business: sound bar, $300

Cycling Club: $1,000

Special Education: two standing desks, $600

Science: classroom performance system, $700

English: ELMO (interactive document camera), two 24” TVs, cables, two iPod Touches, $1,700

Math: whiteboard, horseshoe table, triangle desks, $1,000

After Serving 37 Years, Maryanne Ricketts Retires as Westside High School Principal Westside principal Maryanne Ricketts is retiring this year after leading Westside for five years. Yet, to many of us she is a former counselor or dean. Perhaps she was a guiding force to get you in the right classes. Maybe, as your dean, she had a talk with you in her office. Either way, her guidance and leadership will be missed. Maryanne began her career at Westside in 1979. She worked as a counselor for 19 years before moving into an administrative role. In her long career as an educator, she is most proud of the many moments with students. “My time with students is what I will always remember. Helping them any way, being there for them, is something I am thankful I was able to do.” Her impact will live on in her former students, as well as the teachers and other professionals she has coached and mentored. Though she has seen Westside evolve through the decades, she knows that it’s the continued student/teacher relationships that make Westside a special place. She credits this success to the scheduling and the many teachers who work with students one-on-one at their desk. “We’ve personalized learning for the students, offering many courses and opportunities for all students.” Her hope is that Westside can continue the legacy of this successful learning model by using modular scheduling and technology to connect students with teachers. Upon retirement, Maryanne plans to travel, spend time at her condo in Arizona, and visit family in the Chicago area. After a career of giving her time and energy to the Westside community, she hopes to volunteer her time at a local school. Even in retirement she will continue to do what she knows best: helping students succeed.


Oakdale Elementary Celebration, 1–3 pm Oakdale alumni, families, community members and current and past teachers invited to honor the history and celebrate the new Oakdale. Contact: meaganvg@yahoo.com

May 25

Omaha Gives!

June 27

The 2016 Westside Open Presented by the Hawkins Sisters The Players Club at Deer Creek www.westsidegolf.com

Sept. 23

Westside Alumni Association Annual Homecoming Tailgate 5:30 p.m. Warriors verses Omaha Central

Nov. 3

Lighthouse Leader/Alumni Hall of Fame Dinner Happy Hollow Club Look for recipients in the Fall issue of the “W”

Nov. 26

Annual Westside Alumni Basketball Tournament Westside High School



Welcome Jay Opperman


After a comprehensive search, the Board of Education, at its February meeting, selected Jay Opperman to be Westside’s new principal. He is currently principal of Hastings High School where he has served in that position since 2004. Watch the Fall issue of the “W” for more information and a greeting from Mr. Opperman.

If you live in the Omaha community or even outside the metro, you may have heard news reports of public school districts in the city facing budget shortfalls. Westside Community Schools was no exception. On February 29, Westside announced it was reducing its 2016-17 budget by nearly $4 million. While we have faced shortfalls in previous years, we have been able to keep our cuts to mostly non-salary items. This time, we needed to look at staffing. Some of the reductions we proposed include elimination of the elementary foreign language program, trimming of “bubble classes” (consolidating three elementary classrooms into two), eliminating enrichment summer school, ending the senior “lighthouse” project and extending the distance (from one mile to two) that elementary students must live from school to be eligible for free transportation. Due to attrition, we were able to reassign teachers to other teaching positions and avoid the need to lay off anyone. Following this initial Board meeting, we asked teachers, parents and community members to share their feedback on the proposed reductions. After public comments during our Board of Education meetings, question/answer sessions during two town hall forums, and feedback from hundreds of emails submitted through an online site, we announced our final budget reduction decisions during the March 21 Board of Education meeting. Going forward, we must work very hard to increase our revenue streams by working with the Nebraska Legislature, protecting our commercial property values, and developing partnerships with the Westside Foundation and other community stakeholders. We cannot solve our financial issues through budget reductions alone and will continue to look for ways to generate and increase our revenues.

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While we had to reduce expenses, we cannot stagnate as a District. We must remain competitive with our salary and benefits. Research tells us that strong classroom teachers and strong building administrators provide the foundation for academic success. We will do all we can to attract and retain the best and brightest. At the same time, the community support of the recent bond issue is providing the funds to improve our K-8 school buildings and upgrade security, safety, accessibility and electrical and mechanical systems. It is important to remember that these funds are separate from our general funds and cannot be used for district operations. Westside has long been known for its excellence and innovation. We must continue to innovate. Whether through personalized learning, authentic problem solving, or technology integration, we are seeing positive results with our students as we prepare them to live and work in an ever-changing world. I am confident that in spite of our recent budget shortfall, we can emerge stronger and better prepared to face future challenges. I am so proud of our employees and the work they do every day with our young people. We are all fortunate to live and work in a community that cares deeply about its public school district.

Blane McCann, Ph. D. Superintendent

IN REMEMBRANCE The Westside Alumni Association honors and recognizes all deceased alumni. Visit:


WESTSIDE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION 909 South 76th Street Omaha, NE 68114-4599


THE “W” NEWSLETTER WESTSIDE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION 909 South 76th Street Omaha, NE 68114-4599 402.390.2183 (Voicemail) | 402.390.2177 (Fax) alumni@westside66.net

2016 BOARD OF DIRECTORS President: Jason Hellman (’90) Vice-President: Meagan (Davis) Van Gelder (‘88) Treasurer: Marc Lowe (’76) Secretary: Phyllis (Donaldson) Choat (’65) Directors: Steve Achelpohl, (‘68) Ricky Anderson (‘05) Rick Berkshire (’72) Mark Dudley (’73) Mike Guinane (’74) John Hoich (‘76) Curt Huston (’81) Rob Laughlin (’75) Beth (Williams) Leach (’98) Kristin Lynch (’89) Debbie (Moss) McGrew (’88) Rob Owen (’87) Mark Sempek (’80) Denise (Haber) Swanson (’80) Tom Thompson (’83)

CONNECT WITH US Follow and “Like” us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to see photos, reunion news, and current information on relevant events. facebook.com/ WestsideAlumni @WestsideAlumni linkedin.com/in/westsidealumni Keep up-to-date by updating your contact information online: alumni.wcsfoundation66.org

ALUMNI SUPPORT If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to the Alumni Association, please mail your gift to: WESTSIDE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION 909 South 76th Street Omaha, NE 68114-4599 Please make checks payable to: “Westside Alumni Association”

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