Former music teacher Sue Yocum directs freshman Sarah Vanstory and the high school choir prior to the winter concert December 17. Yocum took over for Richard Philbrook, who was sick that day. “I was kind of worried, but I knew Mrs. Yocum was a really good teacher. I forgot words at one point in rehearsal, but I felt comfortable with her,” Vanstory said. Photo by Sean Dugger.
Music students perform despite teacher’s illness
A Christmas miracle was needed to keep the winter concert on schedule.
Richard Philbrook, the 5-12 band and choir teacher, fell ill over the weekend preceding the annual Winter Concert December 17. The students in the music program came to school that Monday planning to finalize preparations for the concert, but it was in danger of being cancelled without a director. Former elementary music teacher Sue Yocum volunteered to become the director, but only had a day to work with all of the students.
Yocum had to quickly work with students to see if holding the concert was still feasible.
No other days were available to reschedule due to the impending winter break. With only one class period to practice with the all of the students, the decision to continue without any changes to theperformances was made, including performing two solos in the choir’s ‘White Christmas’ and the tempo difficult piece of the band’s ‘Three Minute Nutcracker’.
“Not knowing the tempos or the cues for the students in the pieces made it difficult,” Yocum said. “I enjoyed it, there was almost less stress than one I prepared myself.”
Behind the curtains, secretary Jeanne Parry put in a lot of work in the logistics side of the concert with things like contacting the correct people for help and making the many programs to be passed out.
“We just didn’t want to disappoint everyone who would have to travel or the seniors and their last Christmas concert,” Parry said.
Despite the illness and the inability for Philbrook to attend, the concert was performed on time and received well by the audience. “I thought it was really good, everybody played and sang their best even though Philbrook was gone,” junior Luke Stuhlsatz said.
“I was impressed, proud, and not surprised with how well the students responded,” principal Jan Hutley said.
Known for not missing any concerts before, Philbrook was disappointed to have to miss his first one due to being sick, but was proud of how the students performed.
“The concert would not have happened without the tenacity of Mrs. Perry, Mrs. Yocum, and all of the students who were willing to work with someone they hadn’t,” Philbrook said.
With Christmas right around the corner, Christmas entertainment can be found in various forms such as music, movies, books and more. In the spirit of Christmas, WHS publications staff and advisers chose their favorite pieces of Christmas entertainment. Let us know your favorites on Twitter @whscharger.
Kaytlyn Meseke, newspaper
“The Polar Express” movie is my favorite piece of Christmas entertainment because it holds a special place in my heart. When my brother was being born, my aunt took me to the movie theaters to watch it and it was my first movie theater experience. I didn’t enjoy it much that day, and it still kind of scared me years after. But every year we watch it as a family and the suspense still gets me sometimes.
Hannah Mumpower, newspaper
“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” is by far my favorite piece of Christmas entertainment. My family and I watch it every year on TV at least once, if not more. It’s a really funny movie and is super entertaining. I’m pretty sure my brother can quote just about every scene in the movie. It also reminds me a little of our own family Christmases. They get a little hectic sometimes, but it turns out all right in the end.
Laurel Barber, yearbook editor in chief, newspaper
“Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas” is a classic but amazing Christmas movie. Every year the night before Christmas my mom would wrap all the presents and I would have to go into the back room to watch a movie. I would always watch the movie and try to be like Minnie in the ice rink.
Jayna Keller, newspaper
“A Charlie Brown Christmas” is my favorite piece of Christmas entertainment. It’s such a classic, and when I was in sixth grade, I helped the younger kids in EL put on a production of it. Also they play it every year on TV, so I can just sit down with my little siblings, and enjoy a holiday movie. It’s an easy way to be able to relax with my family, without fighting about what to watch.
Abby Oliver, newspaper editor in chief, Senioritis host
Ever since my brothers and I were little kids, my mom would read us “The Night Before Christmas” book Christmas Eve night before we went to bed. We would get to open one present that night, and it would always be new pajamas. Then we would all sit on our couch, and listen to mom read The Night before Christmas. It just reminds me of Christmas as a kid.
Makayla Wagner, yearbook
My favorite Christmas movie is the classic animated “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” because it makes me laugh and my favorite part is when he started feeling and he asked Max to help him.
Sean Dugger, newspaper
Being more into music than movies during the holiday season, “Carol of the Bells” takes the place of my favorite Christmas entertainment. The song has been remade by many artists, which I believe adds to its enjoyment as everyone adds something a little different every time. My favorite covers include the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Pentatonix.
Emma Frey, newspaper
I liked all the animated Christmas movies growing up like “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town,” “The Year Without Santa Claus,” “Rudolph,” “The Little Drummer Boy,” “Nestor,” and “The Grinch.” I never really got into any other movies when I was younger like I did with those. They’re just so good and I don’t think any Christmas movie will ever top those for me. They remind me of being a kid.
Eleanor Badeker, newspaper
I’m a big fan of all the classic Christmas movies, but for me nothing beats the Nutcracker ballet. My family owns an old version on VHS. The picture is kind of fuzzy and it makes weird noises sometimes, but it adds to the effect that has been a tradition every year. The music by Tchaikovsky is so beautiful. My mom and I always watch it during Christmas break and it calms us down amidst the craziness of the season.
Justice Houston, yearbook
I love all Christmas songs but my favorite is definitely is “All I Want for Christmas” by Mariah Carey. It’s my favorite because every Christmas season me and my friends always jam out to the song.
Melissa Campbell, yearbook
My favorite Christmas movie is the Christmas Chronicles. It’s a new movie on Netflix, and it has some comedic scenes.
Shantel Corp, yearbook
My favorite movie is “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” My favorite Christmas song is “Christmas Cookies” by George Strait. It my favorite season because I get to spend time with my family.
Meredith Hess, yearbook
Christmas Hallmark movies are probably my favorite thing to entertain myself with during Christmas time. My mom and I waste time watching them, and I even watch them while I study for finals! They are really cheesy and the same thing happens in every single one, but I love them.
Dillon Spellman, Senioritis producer
My favorite piece of Christmas entertainment is the 2008 Hannah Montana Christmas Special. Even if it only exists in my mind, it has to be the greatest Christmas-themed piece of art to ever exist. Someday I might even get around to watching it.
Brendan Praeger, newspaper adviser
Rather than choosing something old, I’m choosing something new that I think will become a tradition in my family. Last week I watched “Angela’s Christmas” on Netflix with my two-year-old son Logan. The short animated film presents a story from Frank McCourt, the author of the Irish classic “Angela’s Ashes,” in which a young girl steals the baby Jesus from a nativity scene to keep him warm during a cold night. The movie is incredible, and since my mother grew up in Ireland it’s extra special. Logan has watched it half a dozen times already and his grandmother even took him to the nearby Catholic Church because he kept asking to see “Baby Jesus.”
Luke Barber, Senioritis host
My favorite Christmas movie is “A year without Santa.” I remember when I would sit on the floor in my grandma’s old house and watch it and sing along to the Mr. heat miser and Mr. cold miser song. My favorite Christmas song is from Charlie Brown, the Christmas time is here song, it’s just so sweet.
Maddie Alderman, Senioritis host
My favorite Christmas entertainment is watching my father watch “A Christmas Story”. He’s seen it about a million times, but still laughs at every joke. Also, if you watch closely, you can see him mouthing the words along with the characters on screen.
Amy Cassell, yearbook adviser
My favorite song is “Mary Did You Know?” because it’s pretty and my kids will sing it.
Wabaunsee’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter is helping with Wabaunsee’s Santa Express and Adopt-A-Family this Christmas season.
“Our FCA chapter has adopted a local family. So our members went out and shopped for the family. We then began to gather and wrap the presents. Pastor Jamie Bonnema will deliver them to the family,” FCA sponsor Jeanne Parry said. This is Parry’s second year as the club’s sponsor. “We assisted Santa Express last year by delivering presents, although this year adopting a family was really important with our members.”
WHS STUCO and FCCLA are participating in another Adopt-A-Family as well. FCA members also believe they can experience life lessons through assisting with these organizations.
“I think it is important for high school kids to learn to appreciate how lucky we have it in life,” senior Kinsey Stuewe said. Stuewe has been a part of the club for two years now. “Doing this project shows to respect everyone at all times because you never know what they might be going through.”
WHS FCA has also made some big changes inside the club as well, with recruiting new members. Parry believes the upperclassmen of FCA have the most to do with this drastic increase of membership.
“Our membership has grown from 0 to 30 in this past year,” Parry said. “I think we have a strong upperclassmen leadership that joined at the beginning of last year. They have really developed and outreached to fellow students.”
WHS FCA also hosts 5th quarter gatherings after athletic events, and a “See You At The Pole” welcoming all students before school.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.