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

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_

Drama rehearses for fall play

Dillon Spellman and Maddie Alderman rehearse for the fall play during drama class. The fall play is on December 1.

Drama students to perform holiday play

The drama class is preparing for it’s fall play, Closed for the Holidays,” 7 p.m. December 1 in the high school auditorium.

Written by Flip Kobler and Cindy Marcus, the play follows  travelers caught in the turmoil of a snowstorm. Stranded at a local community center, everyone from a teacher with a bus full of students to a Sheriff eager for criminal action is going to need a miracle to have a happy holiday.

Senior Travis McCall is taking on the role of Nolan, the fiancé of a woman who becomes hysterical around the holidays.

“This is a good character for me, because I’ve seen and dealt with crazy women,” McCall said.

Junior Brendan Dugger plays a mysterious man who is secretly an elf working for Santa.

“This character is good for me because I get to be kind of rude, which is always fun. I’ve only been in Drama for one year and am preparing by spending time everyday reading my lines.

“It’s always stressful in the last couple of weeks,” director Brendan Praeger said.

Tickets for the performance are $5 for adults and $3 for students.

— Kendyl Bolinder, @BolinderKendyl

Former WHS student developing rap career

Former Wabaunsee student Mason Schwemmer, also known as Schwem, is a local artist making his start in the music industry. Check out his new album “L;FE” November 30. 

Q: What made you want to go into music?  A: Music has always been the only piece of my life that feels free/ comfortable. I’ve never felt in place doing stuff like work, school, sport, to even kickin’ it with friends. I want to do music so I can help people help themselves, just like I’ve done. I feel like I was meant to create this music that brings people together and builds them up. Although I’m not religious.

Q: When and how did you start recording?  A: I started recording myself in 2015, but I started going to a recording studio in 2017, to improve quality because I wasn’t really doing it right. To start I used a program called audacity, fruity loops, and a $70 mic from a music store and just my computer, and some random soundproofing material like egg cartons.

Find Shwemmer’s work on Spotify, Youtube, iTunes, and Google play, or see him live the following dates:

Nov. 30 –  Topeka – Album Release Party & No Industry Standard Tour

Dec. 1 – Topeka – with Haystak

Dec. 21 – Topeka – with Twisted Insane

Dec. 22 – Kansas City – with TWISTED INSANE

Q: How did you get your rap name? A: I originally went by schwemdalabim then I kind of got sick of that so I changed it to Schwem. It’s part of my last name.

Q: What are you currently working on? A: I’m about to push out my 2nd album on all platforms like iTunes, Spotify, etc… and I’m working on finishing a mixtape that’ll come out after the album.

Also work on doing bigger shows.

Q: What are some challenges people don’t know?  A: I gotta say the most challenging part of making music and pursuing it as a career is keeping your head in it. As someone who struggles with depression pretty often, it gets difficult to continue to put yourself in that mind state. Confidence, Energy, & Passion are things that a successful artist must constantly strain & rebuild.

You have to stay motivated.

Q: How has your work progressed throughout the years?  A: It’s becoming very diverse in style compared to older songs I’ve made to open the demographic to a less specific audience. I’ve also been trying to focus on quality and professionalism.

Q: How are you marketing your music? And where do you see your music taking you?  A: Marketing through social media like Facebook, Snapchat,Youtube & Instagram. My distribution is handled through a company called DistroKid. Honestly I see myself going all the way. I’ll either die rich or get famous after I pass.

Q: Do you see this turning into a career?  A: That’s what I’m trying to do.

Q: What are you going to do to turn this into a career?  A: I’m always trying to find different ways to market.

Q: Do your album names mean anything?  A: My new album is L;fe. I called it L;fe because it tells a story, it’s like an emotional journey, sort of like an odyssey. It’s how you wake up and it’s like the boiling point. Then throughout the day it like fluctuates. It just happens everyday its like a cycle. That’ what my album is about.

Q: Do you have any songs that mean anything to you?  A: All my songs mean something special to me in a different way. My favorite song is nosebleeds, I like the way it sounds it’s fun to sing.

Q: What are some steps to getting a producer/record label?  A: Just reaching out, doing shows, and talking to people you don’t know. Whether it be face to face, over facebook, just trying to reach out and it just comes together.

Q:  Do you have any advice to younger kids wanting to do something like this?  A: Ain’t nothing but to do it. Just stick with it.

— Laurel Barber, @Lawl_e_20

Infamous 3-minute quizzes test math skills

Functions, stats and trig students take a 3-minute quiz Monday afternoon. Students have three minutes to do five problems without a calculator, receiving extra credit for finishing in less than a minute. Photo by Sarah Vanstory.

Quizzes show students can work without calculators

The six words every Wabaunsee student dreads. “Put away calculators, three-minute quiz” has struck fear into the hearts of high schoolers for years.

A three-minute quiz is a no calculator quiz that includes a combination of five math questions that relate to different areas taught in Roger Alderman’s math classes. Students are given three minutes to solve these problems. If all problems are solved correctly and the quiz is finished within the first minute, students can earn extra credit.

The problems put on the quiz are usually simple and can be solved with mental math and a little effort, but the time constraint means not every student is a fan. “I don’t like three minute quizzes,” sophomore Jordan Magette said, “they stress me out because I’m always trying to finish in the first minute.” Other students, however, enjoy them because they don’t often require much effort. “I actually like them because they’re easy,” sophomore Raegan Feyh said.

Three-minute quizzes originated when Alderman ran into the issue of students depending entirely on calculators. “It was kind of frustrating always hearing the complaint that kids can’t do anything without a calculator,” said Alderman, “I decided to come up with something to test and show that, yes, our kids can still work without a calculator when they need to.” The three-minute quiz gives students a chance to use their brain and exercise skills that they have learned throughout their years in school without the aid of a calculator or iPad.

The three-minute quiz has become so infamous at Wabaunsee that it has become synonymous with all things relating to Alderman’s class. It even lead to a practical joke pulled on Alderman a few years ago. “Some kids wrote a three minute quiz on my driveway so I went ahead and solved it,” Alderman said, “I don’t know for sure who it was, you’d have to ask around.”

The culprit, in fact, was Wabaunsee’s very own Kyle Schmitz, Josh Wurtz, and Maddy Michaelis. “I was just cruising through the neighborhood, thinking about three-minute quizzes, and I thought I might as well write one on his driveway,” 2018 graduate Kyle Schmitz said.

It is often included in graduation speeches and has become a common memory between Wabaunsee Alumni. “I don’t know exactly how it’s taken on a life of it’s own the way it has. Over the years I developed the delivery for how I introduced them and suddenly that, for some reason, caught on,” Alderman said. They seem to get mentioned all over the place when they were just this little simple thing I came up with years ago.”

— Emma Frey, @_emmafrey_

Little Munchkins Pumpkin Patch a family affair

Little Munchkins Pumpkin Patch continues to bring visitors to the community for another season.

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Jarrod and Cori Meseke run the patch, located 1.5 miles north of Alma on Highway 99. The pumpkin patch first opened in the fall of 2008 and is open every weekend in October along with Friday afternoons. The patch will be open 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, November 3.

Cori made the decision of opening the pumpkin patch after having her first son. “I fell in love with my baby Jude and decided I would never be separated from him, so I decided to do this to have an extra income for the household,” Cori said.

To keep a pumpkin patch running it takes hard work, long hours and sacrifice. To help out, Jarrod and Cori’s five kids help with the chores at the patch during the season. After school and on the weekends the kids help plant the pumpkins, pull the weeds and care for the animals. “It teaches them work ethic,” Cori said, “And I hope they will carry it on.” Once the children become older, Jarrod and Cori hope to pass it onto them.

Not only does the pumpkin patch take lots of work, it takes away their free time during the season. With the kids becoming older, more challenges have come up with working around their schedules. Jarrod and Cori are very thankful for Jarrod’s parents for being able to help out during the season by watching the kids and taking them to their sporting events along with making cookies for the customers. They are also thankful for carpooling with extended family and friends.

Cori enjoys seeing the gratified customers come each weekend and each year. “When they come out here, they’ve had a great time and that’s the biggest payoff,” Cori said.

The pumpkin patch also gives opportunities for high school students to make a little money during October. “I like seeing all the different kids and their families spending time and having fun together,” junior Alexis Hafenstine said.

The pumpkin patch is $10 for ages 2 to 14, but free for adults and children under the age of 2.

Activities include a train ride around the patch, a hedge ball slingshot, multiple slides, ziplines, hay bales to jump on, a petting zoo and a walking trail. Pumpkins and participating in the paint ball shooting gallery are an extra cost. The pumpkin patch also has different food trucks scheduled for the season (Smokin’ Wille’s BBQ will be there Saturday and Sunday) and a concession stand for food. It also offers reservations throughout the week for daycares, birthdays and other groups for small ages.

For more information about Little Munchkins Pumpkin Patch go

— Kaytlyn Meseke, @kaytlyn_nelle

Hafenstine wins assassin

Jayna Keller, @whscharger

At the end of the day Thursday, freshman Kara Hafenstine was the only one left standing.

On October 11, the freshman class participated in a game of Assassin as a part of reading “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell in English 1.

The rules of the game were simple, each student received a target to hunt. Students could be eliminated using a clothes pin or by being tricked into holding a black spot.

Previous champions

2012: Jason Maciejewski

2013: Natalee Kates

2014: Sania Huda

2015: Erika Prue

2017: Raegan Feyh

2018: Kara Hafenstine


The game only lasted through lunch, when Kara Hafenstine assassinated Kyndal Maike. “I airdropped her a picture of the black dot of death which then killed her,” Hafenstine said.

A common theme that all students said they learned was don’t trust people when it comes to games like this. “I learned not to ever trust anybody because you will not be expecting them to pin you,” Aiden Boeckman.

Comments from the game:

“I learned how being patient helps with assassinating someone. My favorite memory was when Cade let me assassinate him. Kyndal eliminated me because I said don’t tag me instead of don’t pin me. My best elimination was when I hid behind a door then jumped out and got Justin. My assassinations were Justin then Cade.” — Eli McDaniel

“I learned that you always have to know your surroundings and that trust is key to friendships. My favorite memory was when Kyndal and Kara were trying to eliminate each other in the end. Ashlyn eliminated me between classes. My only assassination was Abby.” — Sarah Vanstory

“I learned not to ever trust anybody because you will not be expecting them to pin you then they will pull the pin out and pin you when you are least expecting it. My favorite memory of this game was throwing Hannah’s pin across the room when she pinned me. I did not have any eliminations.” — Aiden Boeckman

“I learned that a Cameron is a cheap son of a gun. I didn’t have time to make a memory, cause Cameron got me out by throwing his backpack at me.” — Gaige Smith

“I learned from assassin to never trust anyone and that our class doesn’t know how to keep their mouths shut. When (Mr. Praeger) said “don’t tell anyone who you have”, I should’ve listened. My favorite memory is when Justin got out first thing in the morning and he was salty the rest of the day. No one eliminated me because I’m the GOAT and no one can get me. My best elimination was my last one which was Kyndal. I airdropped her a picture of the black dot of death which then killed her. Assassinations: Richard, Jackson, Celia, and Kyndal.” — Champion Kara Hafenstine

Choir prepares for Fall Concert

Kendyl Bolinder, @BolinderKendyl

WHS band and choir are prepping for the first concert of the school year, 7 p.m. tonight in the WHS auditorium.

The choir will perform “What About Us,” by P!nk, “What the World Needs Now is Love,” by Jackie DeShannon, and more. The main focus of the choir portion of the concert is to draw attention to the diversity in society today. Every song the choir will be singing is meant to get the audience thinking about what is good, or conversely, what is not so good in the world. “The world needs less hate and more love,” director Richard Philbrook said.

The band will perform directly after the choir. It will play several upbeat pep band songs, including arrangements of “Burn,” by Ellie Goulding, “Shut Up and Dance,” by WALK THE MOON and “Great Balls of Fire,” by Jerry Lee Lewis. The band has rehearsed these songs all year, and performed many during home football games.

“I really enjoyed learning all the songs we played this quarter, and we worked really hard on them,” sophomore Bernice Poulter said.

“We’re just gonna have fun and be the high school equivalent of a rock and roll band,” Philbrook said.

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