Opinion: WHS needs better guest speakers

Miss Kansas speaks to WHS students during an assembly about seat belt safety. While seat belt safety is important, writer Kendyl Bolinder argues that hearing about the same issues each year does little to educate students.

Speakers should address issues important to students

“Don’t drink and drive.” “Stay drug free.” These are things that high school students are constantly reminded of.

The speakers who come to Wabaunsee are repetitive, and several have the same general message. We should be bringing in better speakers that will be more beneficial for the students.

Speakers are a waste of time for some students. They are missing advisor base and class time to attend mandatory presentations, even though they often have no interest in what the presenters are teaching.

Sophomore Karlee Feyh said, “I think the speakers we’ve had this year are good to hear, but after you hear the same stuff over and over, you tend to stop paying attention. A solution would be to expand the range of topics. We need to have speakers who have a way of reaching students that is more fun than just lecturing.”

There are so many speakers with important platforms that are relevant to high school students today. WHS needs to expand its speaker selection and the topics they cover.

There are things that will impact teens more than lectures about seat belt use and drugs — topics they are already fairly educated on. One great topic is depression and suicide. An estimated 3.1 million teens have had a major depressive episode in the last year. As a student body, students at Wabaunsee high have received little education about this topic, or the things that go hand in hand with it, such as anxiety/mental disorders, bullying, human trafficking, healthy relationships, academic struggles or social media use.

A small group of students traveled to Washburn rural high school earlier this school year to witness a speech by Kevin Hines, who survived a jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. He told the distressing story of his life. He talked about all the people he had lost to suicide, one being his first psychiatrist. He spoke about his struggles with bipolar disorder, his time in psychiatric hospitals and his failed suicide attempt. He reminded people that they they can get through it, and encouraged them to “Be Here Tomorrow.” He was very relatable and had a way of interacting with students that was both fun and inspiring.

Sophomore Ryleigh Jones, who attended the presentation, said “He communicated with us in a way we would understand, rather than just slides on a PowerPoint. His topic was the same as many other speakers, but he stood out. He has been through it all since he was born. He wanted to make kids understand there’s always another option.”

Wabaunsee should be bringing in speakers who will make an impact on students. We shouldn’t select speakers based on the fact that they’ve been here before, or that they don’t cost much. We should put in the time and money to host people who will truly make a difference in our schools.

Kendyl Bolinder, @BolinderKendyl

Students prepare for winter choir, band concerts

Emma Alderman, Tara Quintanilla, Bernice Poulter, Gabby Simmons and Kimi Buchanan sing during choir practice at WHS. The choir performs December 17 in the auditorium. Photo by Abby Oliver.

Concerts to feature Christmas classics

As Wabaunsee students prepare for winter concerts, one teacher is directing his first winter concert, while another is preparing for his last.

Maple Hill Elementary performs Tuesday in Maple Hill and Alma performs Thursday in the WHS auditorium. Both shows begin at 7 p.m.

Elementary music teacher Peter Ruby likes the challenge of directing young students.

“Young students definitely enjoy to wiggle when singing, but their enthusiasm is contagious. It’s apparent they love what they are doing and I am very excited for them to show their parents what they are capable of,” Ruby said.

The students will perform a selection of Christmas songs, including  “Christmas Makes me Sing,” “A Gift for Santa,” “Bubble Wra,”, “Simple Gifts” and “Little Drummer Boy.”

“I have challenged the students, especially 4th grade, with difficult music and they have risen to the challenge,” Ruby said. “I’m proud of their hard work and determination, especially their perseverance through struggles.”

First grade students from Alma Elementary practice for the winter concert Tuesday afternoon in the WHS Auditorium. Photo by Sarah Vanstory and Hannah Ratts.

Wabaunsee Middle and High school teacher Richard Philbrook is preparing for his last Christmas concert before retirement.

“They will perform everything from traditional, like Carol of The Bells, to some modern-sounding arrangements with some new songs. A wide variety, from old favorites, traditional, to modern.” Philbrook said. “They’re working very hard, starting with the logistics, and fine tuning a couple of notes.”

— Jayna Keller, @whscharger

WHS hires Spanish, P.E. teachers

WHS hired two new teachers at Monday night’s board meeting.

David Amer will replace Kathy Hendricks as Spanish Teacher. Hendricks has only been teaching on B days, so some adjustments may be made to next semester’s schedule.

Garrett Eck will take over the P.E. teaching position currently being filled by girls head basketball coach, Shanna Perine.

The board also hired Kolby Harris and Adam Laubert to coach junior high boys basketball.



WHS hires new librarian

WHS welcomes graduate Whitney Lynch to fill Library/Media Tech position.

Lynch, a 2009 graduate and daughter of Paxico Middle School Social Studies and WHS Cheer coach Cheryl Lewis, has returned to the halls of Wabaunsee to fill the Library/Media Tech position previously held by Heather McCreight. McCreight moved to Wabaunsee Junior High to fill the Library/Media Tech position there.

This is Lynch’s first Library. “I have never been a librarian before,” Lynch said, “but I’m learning.”

Lynch’s favorite memories of Wabaunsee include winning the state championship in softball her sophomore year and cheerleading. Lynch said her hobbies are her kids. “I have three of them,” Lynch said, “They are 9, 5 and 1 so they keep me pretty busy, but I also enjoy reading and sports.”

Lynch enjoys reading Nicholas Sparks books in her free time.

— Hannah Mumpower, @Hlmump01

Freshman Emmert performing in The Nutcracker

Ballet plays a big part in freshman Cecelia Emmert’s life.

The 2018 Ballet Midwest production of The Nutcracker marks Emmert’s ninth year performing in the ballet.  

Emmert was introduced to ballet at the age of six. “My aunt signed me up for some classes and I continued from there,” Emmert said.

This is Emmert’s first year being a part of Company through Ballet Midwest. “Company basically gives you more responsibility,” Emmert says, “you’re higher up and considered more mature.” Dancers must audition for Company every year. New dancers are given a big sister to help introduce them and get them used to company and when they are older they receive a little sister.

In addition, this is Emmert’s fourth year en pointe. Pointe is a ballet position in which the dancer dances on the tips of their toes. This requires different shoes and requires more effort and practice than dancing on flat feet.

Rehearsal in preparation for The Nutcracker began in October with practices twice a week. The dancers are then given a break and return with practice four times a week. The week leading up to the production includes practice every day except Monday. “We practice a lot.” Emmert said. Some dancers even miss school in order to attend rehearsal. The Nutcracker features a cast of about a hundred dancers, ranging from young kids to adults and includes both men and women.

With ballet occupying most of her time, Emmert still finds time to balance school work and a social life. “I just try to get all of my homework done,” Emmert said, “when I’m done then I can focus on dance.” Emmert said she loses a lot of sleep, but she’s managing to stay caught up.

This year, Emmert will play the part of a Yellow Flower and a Spanish Corp. “I like being flower,” Emmert said. She said that her favorite role would be either flowers or a Hungarian dancer. Emmert’s favorite part of the ballet is Act II when the Russian dancers are performing in front of Clara and the Nutcracker.

Emmert has also been a part of several other ballets including Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake and will be a part of Coppelia this upcoming spring. Emmert intends to continue ballet until she graduates high school.

On top of ballet, Emmert also enjoys reading and art. “I really enjoy alone time and music,” she said, “I don’t really do much besides ballet.”

Performances of The Nutcracker will be on the 7, 8 and 9 of December at the Topeka Performing Arts Center, with two performances on the 8th.

— Emma Frey, @_emmafrey_

New boys basketball coach hopes to lead by example

Smart challenges players to set goals for season

New boys basketball boys head coach Christopher Smart is hoping to help achieve individual and team goals at WHS. Wabaunsee is Smart’s first high school head coach job, but he brings several years of experience at Mission Valley and Marysville. Smart hopes to see improvements from the previous season.

Where have you coached before?

I started down at Mission Valley in 2002 as an 8th grade coach then the next year I was up in high school as the assistant coach. I went through 2006 there. Then I was in Marysville as assistant coach from 2006 to 2009, and I haven’t coached since.

What are some of your goals for the year?

One of my big team goals for the season is to keep the opponents under 45 points, top three in the mid-east league, and get to the sub-state championship game to give a chance to get to state, which I think this team has. We have a lot of hype, we have a lot of the keys I think to get there. I’ve told them this {The team} that as coaches we can show them to door, they have to walk through it.

Do you have any individual goals for the year?

No technicals, I will never be belligerent to refs, my face might be red and I might be cussing underneath my breath, but I will get T’d up if that means getting the boys fired up. Other individual goals are to just be a leader for the guys, show respect to the opponents, the fans, the refs, and the other coaches and just lead by example.

What prompted you to want to coach at Wabaunsee?

I didn’t know if I would ever get back into coaching, and I came to a few games last year, and it really kind of got the fire going back inside me again, seeing the potential out on the floor, and seeing what these guys could potentially be. I then started talking to some school board members about it, even just talking about the games themselves, then it kind of just came up that this high school coaching job kind of came open and those things we were talking about I think kind of got my foot in the door a little bit for this position, but it definitely peaked my interest coming to games last year.

What are some challenges that you never realized as head coach?

All the work I have to do. As a head coach you are constantly scheduling summer stuff, and constantly thinking about the future with summer, but its constant bombardment of stuff you have to do besides the basketball. Now that being said I don’t mind that stuff it keeps extremely busy and I really don’t mind it at all.

What do you think the community’s expectations are of you?

I think that the community’s expectations are pretty low but I feel really confident with this group. I think that we have everything we need, and I think once we start winning games the community will be a lot more interested in boys basketball. Another thing I am doing is having all the boys volunteer to get them out in the community, for the most part the community supports this program and I want them out supporting the community the way they are doing us.

What are some of the team’s advantages and disadvantages?

Disadvantages I think are the previous seasons kind of just lingers over you. They are used to losing, not used to having success. Once they start winning they are going to deal with that. Are they going to get a big head? Do you need to keep them level? I thinks that’s the big thing. That mentality gets into their heads and it just needs to be changed.

Advantages, I am impressed with the effort. I didn’t know what to expect, coming in. I didn’t know if they were going to bust their butts for me or like in grade school I have to give them a pep talk every 10 minutes. I had no idea. I think that their effort has been very good so far. Mentally we are getting there. It has been a lot of new stuff thrown at them so I think they will get there.

Were there any challenges getting hired later in the year? 

As soon as I got hired I was working to just get the boys to summer camp which was in just four or five days. Also trying to get the boys into tournaments during the summer. As soon as I got hired I probably called about seven or eight different coaches trying to get into tournaments.

Outside of coaching what do you like to do?

Hunt and fish, I am definitely an outdoors man.

How are you trying to build relationships with the boys?

I think that is some of the biggest challenges in coaching is also some of the most rewarding is connecting with them, I think that once you connect with them i think they respond. It’s constant talking to them besides the basketball stuff. I really have to dive a little deeper with them.

— Laurel Barber, @Lawl_e_20

Q&A: Wrestlers hope to continue program’s success

The WHS wrestling team is looking forward to a successful season under head coach Joey Heersche and assistant Travis Conrad. Senior Sean Dugger and Sophomore Eli Mumpower were interviewed by the Charger to get a better understanding of the team.

How many people are out this year?

Eli: Ten. Marek Boatwright and Jackson Havenstein are the freshman. Myself, Derek Wallin, Lane Berkenmeier, Isaac Mumaw, and Alex Warner are the sophomores. Frank Gilbert is our only Junior, and Sean and Austen Bonnette are the Seniors.

How many returning wrestlers do you have?

Sean: We have 6 returning wrestlers from last year, so we aren’t inexperienced. Austen is returning from Sophomore year and Lane is returning from Junior High.

What are some goals you hope to achieve as a team this year?

Eli: We want to have multiple state qualifiers.

Sean: While we’d like to make it to state, we still want to build the team up for years to come.

What are some of the challenges you will face this year?

Eli: Everyone making weight.

Sean: Poor motivation due to the long season makes it tough to keep going. Holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas also destroy motivation as it just means getting back down to weight.

What are some team strengths/weaknesses?

Eli: Some of the wrestlers are struggling to stay eligible academically.

Sean: The team lacks experience on any state mats, but is willing to work hard to get there.

What do you think are some community expectations for the team this year?

Sean: I imagine the community expects a lot from how successful the team has been, so we might as well fulfill those expectations.

Eli: State qualifiers.

How do you think the team will bounce back after losing two state champion wrestlers?

Eli: We already have some possible state qualifiers.

Sean: Just because we lost some champions doesn’t mean we are going to stop, we are just going to want to send more to the state level as well as getting more champion titles.

In what way do you guys think you can help keep the program going in future years?

Eli: Keeping a fun environment so people don’t quit.

Sean: By keeping a high level of success as well as having fun, the program will continue to improve.

The team opens the season Saturday at Mission Valley.

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