Scholars Bowl places 5th at state

Jarett Bolinder, Luke Barber, Maddie Alderman, Dillon Spellman and Sean Dugger do a buzzer check before beginning play at the state scholars bowl meet in Inman. The Chargers went 4-1 in pool play and finished 5th overall. Photo by Jan Hutley.

Team to graduate 6 seniors

The Wabaunsee Scholars Bowl team ended its season with a 5th place finish at state.

Seniors Maddie Alderman, Luke Barber, Jarrett Bolinder, Sean Dugger, Dillon Spellman and junior Eleanor Badeker traveled to Inman Elementary School to compete in the state meet after qualifying by placing 2nd in the regional meet. The state meet would be tough as it included eleven other teams who placed in the top three from other regional scholar bowl meets including teams like Wichita Independent and Goessel.

“I felt excited and much more nervous than I ever had,” Spellman said.

The format of the state meet is similar to the format used by the regional tournaments. The teams were separated into two pools and the teams competed in a round-robin with the top three teams from each pool moving on to the championship rounds.

WHS won its first four matches of the tournament against Syracuse, Sacred Heart, Oswego and Sublette. The last round of pool play would be against the other undefeated team in the pool, Wichita Independent.

The Chargers gained a lead in the first few questions but would be overtaken quickly after Independent correctly answered nine consecutive questions. Independent won 30-95. WHS would move on to the finals with a 2nd place finish in pool play.

“It felt good to go to the finals,” Spellman said. “But getting destroyed in that final match was very discouraging.”

The championship rounds began with a match against Sublette, a team that got 3rd in the same pool. A tough set of questions would result in a very close round with only a 10 point difference. WHS took a first-round loss of 20-30.

The next match would be against Heritage Christian Academy, a team who placed 3rd at the Wabaunsee regional. Once again, a tough set of questions would produce a 20-point difference, but another loss with a score of 20-40.

A rematch Wichita Independent would be the next match and would prove to be a difficult with Independent interrupting most of the questions. Another loss with a score of 20-100 would put the team in a poor spot for placing.

“When we lost three and still had one of the top teams to play, the mindset changed to get at least one win,” Alderman said.

Northern Heights, the champion of the Wabaunsee regional, was the next team up. The questions in the round may have been difficult, but WHS would overcome the challenge to gain its first victory, 40-10. Another win would make it possible for a top four finish. The last match of the meet would be against Goessel, first place of the other pool during pool play. WHS would fight hard but would prove to be tough a result in a loss with a score of 40-70.

“I thought we tried our best but it was disappointing coming up short,” Bolinder said.

Heritage Christian finished first in 2A after handing Wichita Independent it’s only loss. Independent  finished 2nd and Sublette finished 3rd.

A 5th place finish is one of the many accomplishments the team gained throughout the year. WHS finished second at Council Grove, league and regionals as well as coming very close to entering in the final rounds in two meets. Alderman would lead the team through the year as captain, scoring 1650 points. Spellman scored 755 points, Barber scored 160 points, Bolinder and Dugger scored 100 points each and senior Jessica Vanstory got 10 points.

“I knew this would be a strong team because we returned so many talented players from last year. I think they were really driven and competitive. We were only a couple of questions away from a better finish against some of the best teams in the state,” scholars bowl coach Brendan Praeger said.

— Sean Dugger, @seandugger01

Band, choir teacher Richard Philbrook to retire at end of year

Music teacher Richard Philbrook directs the choir on February 13. Philbrook is retiring at the end of the year after 43 years in education. Photo by Kendyl Bolinder

Music teacher Richard Philbrook has announced his plans to retire at the end of this school year.

Philbrook has taught 5-12th grade at Wabaunsee for 11 years, but has been teaching band and choir for a total of 43 years. His favorite thing about Wabaunsee is the students, and the special bond he’s formed with them over the years.

“That’s not just the requisite answer. That is truly how I feel. I have never taught where, top to bottom, the students were as kind, considerate and respectful as they are here. You guys are just nice people, seriously. So many of my colleagues never got to experience people like you, and I feel sorry for them,” Philbrook.

“He’s very dedicated to music. I’ll miss his stories,” junior baritone player Brendan Dugger said.

“I’ve had him since fifth grade. It’s going to be weird adapting to someone else’s teaching style,” junior trumpeter Falish Willier said.

WHS principal Jan Hutley and WJH principal Steve Oliver are interviewing candidates to fill Philbrook’s position.

After his retirement, Philbrook plans to travel and spend more time with his family, and will occasionally step in as a substitute teacher as needed. He will continue performing in professional music groups.

— Kendyl Bolinder, @Bolinderkendyl

FBLA members place at district competition

Seven FBLA members travelled to Herington High School January 21 to compete at the Kansas FBLA District III Conference.

This was the first District Conference WHS FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) attended in three years as complications with weather had canceled the conference the last two years. “This was the first time any of our students have been able to experience a district conference,” adviser Jeron Weisshaar said.

Attending the conference were juniors Laurel Barber, Hannah Mumpower, Sierra Quathamer and Falisha Willier, sophomore Reagan Kelley and freshmen Kara Hafenstine and Mayah Mumpower.

“I thought it was a good experience for my first year in the club,” Kara Hafenstine said. “I didn’t have that many events to do so it was kind of boring, but adding events over the next few years will make that better.” Hafenstine competed in Introduction to Business and placed 3rd in Introduction to Business Communication.

Reagan Kelley placed 5th in Business Law and 2nd in Hospitality Management. “It was stressful but fun at the same time,” Kelley said. “It was a good learning experience.

WHS FBLA had four other individuals place in events. Hannah Mumpower placed 2nd in Economics, 3rd in Personal Finance, 4th in Healthcare Administration and 6th in Journalism. Sierra Quathamer placed 9th in Agribusiness and participated in Accounting I. Laurel Barber placed 8th in Public Speaking and 10th in Help Desk. She also participated in Personal Finance. Mayah Mumpower placed 8th in Introduction to Financial Math and participated in Introduction to Business Communication. Falisha Willier participated in Accounting I and Business Law.

All WHS FBLA members who competed at District competitions will have the chance to compete at the State FBLA Conference in Topeka, April 1-3. Members who place in the top three in their events at State will advance to the National FBLA Conference June 29-July 2 in San Antonio.

“Not knowing what to expect or how it works, I think the group did an exceptional job with their events,” Weisshaar said.

— Hannah Mumpower, @Hlmump01

Technology director Austin Lawrence reflects on time at USD 329

In technology director Austin Lawrence’s nine years at USD329, he oversaw big changes in the technology, including internet improvements and the introduction of iPads.

Lawrence left the district in January for a similar position Hanover.

He had many roles at Wabaunsee. In addition to being IT director, Lawrence coached girls basketball for six years and football for one. He has also helped teachers to decide on curriculum to work with technology.

When Lawrence first arrived, the separate school buildings in the different towns each had their own internet service provider. Lawrence worked to consolidate the system, and now all the schools in the district get service from one tower with one internet provider. Lawrence also played a large role in better equipping the classrooms. The schools went from each having one mobile projector that was rolled from room to room to having projectors in almost every classroom. Each room is also equipped with an Apple TV, a device that makes student’s presentations and other classroom activities easier.

“Austin was a big help when it came to technology. I started around the same time he did and the progress we’ve made has really benefited the students,” journalism teacher Brendan Praeger said.

Originally the schools were all computer-lab-based. “My second year here, the goal was to get every school two computer labs,” Lawrence said. The junior high and middle school also got mobile labs with laptops. In 2014, the district transitioned to the current system of 1-1 technology by giving every student an iPad. “It was just as cost effective to either upgrade the computer labs or give every kid their own device,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence also oversaw security for the district. There are now 75 cameras district wide compared to the original number of only 10, and all buses are equipped with cameras. The phone system was also modified so that instead of having to make a long distance call between school buildings, the phones are all on an extension. Another major change that Lawrence oversaw was the transition from server to cloud. All the student’s documents used to be stored on physical servers. Now, all documents are backed up to the “cloud” using Google.

Currently, the district is working on changing the internet service from the tower to fiber optics, which is a technology that uses glass or plastic threads to transmit data. Fiber internet is faster and less likely to go down in a power outage.

Lawrence’s new position is the District Technology Coordinator at USD 233. The district uses Chromebooks instead of iPads, and Lawrence is excited to learn about new technology. “For IT people that’s always exciting,” Lawrence said, “instead of doing the same thing over and over I get to mess with some new technology.” Lawrence said he looks forward to having the opportunity to write new district policy about technology.

While Lawrence has already started his new position, his wife Cindy, a teacher at Paxico Middle School, will remain until the end of the school year. The couple is also expecting a third child this spring.

Both Austin and Cindy are originally from Hanover, so moving back is significant to them. “We’re moving back home,” Lawrence said. There will be familiar faces at his new job. “I actually get to work with some of my old teachers that I went to high school with,” Lawrence said.

After spending so many years at Wabaunsee, Lawrence said he will miss some things when he leaves, like the small community and the nice facilities at the high school. “Coaching sports was always very enjoyable. I probably won’t have that opportunity up in Hanover,” Lawrence said.

— Eleanor Badeker, @ellybadeker

WHS struggles to find substitute teachers

Finding a substitute teacher is becoming increasingly difficult for Wabaunsee teachers.

The district find substitutes through an automated website program called Frontline, formerly known as AESOP. Teachers and staff use the program to submit a need for a sub and it automatically calls out to a list of substitutes until someone accepts the position. When the subs receive the call they can either accept or deny the request.

WHS secretary Jeanne Perry said that the program usually works out great, but can be a problem with a small amount of substitutes that the district has. The district has around 15, and long term subs minimize that small number.

A problem with the program is that it doesn’t always fill the needed substitute position. When this occurs, an extra step is taken to fill it. “It is Carrie (Boeckman) and I’s job for the high school  to personally call a few people and ask them to maybe pick up at least half a day,” Perry said, “But if we can’t convince someone then we have to look at the different plan periods and piece it together.”

The number of times the school has been unable to find a sub has increased this year. First semester included multiple interim teachers that were gone frequently. The district has also suffered from losing a few good, reliable substitutes due to retirement and other jobs. Long term subs will also make an impact this spring for maternity leave along with many teachers needing subs for fourth hour to leave for spring sports and activities.

In desperate situations, some classes are supervised in the library, or a teacher may watch multiple classes.

Becoming a substitute teacher in the state of Kansas requires a substitute teaching license. These requirements include having a degree, completing a teacher preparation program and passing a background check to be able to apply. Anyone interested can apply at

Substitute Peggy Adams has been subbing for more than 20 years. She said she receives calls 3-4 times a week. “I enjoy being around the students,” she said. “I learn something from them or the lessons every day I work.”

— Kaytlyn Meseke, @Kaytlyn_nelle

Scholars Bowl returns to state

WHS scholars bowl does a buzzer check in the finals round against Northern Heights. The Chargers dropped the match 40-50, finishing second and qualifying to state for the second straight year.

WHS finishes second to Northern Heights

Wabaunsee scholars bowl finished second at the regional tournament, qualifying to state for the second consecutive year.

Seniors Maddie Alderman, Luke Barber, Jarett Bolinder, Sean Dugger, and Dillon Spellman placed second after 13 rounds in the regional tournament that took place at WHS. Alderman lead the team by scoring 360 points with Spellman scoring 100 points and Barber not far behind with 90 points.

“We’ve been competitive at every meet this year, so I knew we were an experienced team with a chance to have a lot of success,” scholars bowl coach Brendan Praeger said.

The format of the tournament separated 16 attending teams into two pools of eight teams each. After playing a round against all teams in their respective pool, the top three continued on towards the championship rounds.

Pool play began poorly with the first match against Kansas City Christian. The team was filled with nerves, competing at home with familiar spectators, judges and moderators. Faced with a difficult selection of questions, the team was destroyed, 80-20 to begin the tournament.

“It was a sketchy way to start the tournament, but we knew it was far from the end,” Spellman said.

The team rebounded to win its next five rounds against Horton, McClouth, Mission Valley, Rossville and Valley Heights. The Chargers dropped the final round of pool play 40-50 against Jefferson County North, ending 5-2 and resusulting in a tie between Jefferson County North, Mission Valley and Wabaunsee.

“Pool play ending in a three-way tie for second made us very nervous heading into the championships,” Alderman said. “Learning that we would have to compete against three private schools did not help with the nerves.”

Tie-breaker rules landed the Wabaunsee team on top of the tie giving them second place in the pool. The six teams in the championship rounds would compete in a round-robin with the top three qualifying for a trip to state. The first three rounds took away the nerves as they resulted in a victory over three private schools. The fourth round was against Northern Heights, with both teams entering the match undefeated.

“Northern Heights was 6-1 in pool play, and they had done well at other meets this year. I had the feeling it would end up being the championship match,” coach Praeger said.

A close 10-point match allowed Northern Heights to take sole possession of first place.

“There were a few questions where we were simply beat to the buzzer,” Praeger said.

IMG_1396With only one loss, a state trip was almost guaranteed, but one last match against Mission Valley would confirm it. Having beat the opposing team before in pool play, the team was confident a victory was in sight.

With only a 5-point lead going in the final question, the year-in review category, the match was intense. Alderman sealed the victory with a buzzer race to answer a question about Rosie the Riveter.

“As soon as I hit the buzzer, I heard the other team sigh and it made me nervous, but I was glad I didn’t mess up,” Alderman said.

The Chargers placed fourth at last year’s state tournament, and look to bring home a bigger trophy this year.

The state tournament begins at noon Saturday at Inman High School. Follow their progress on the Charger Twitter page.

— Sean Dugger, @seandugger01

Students learn practical skills at Washburn Tech

This semester five students are attending Washburn Tech to get a new outlook on the classroom.

Juniors Dalton Turner, Frank Gilbert, Tucker Thomas, Austin Davis and Tyler Clark attend Washburn Tech every morning. Last year senior David Cebulski attended Washburn Rural as a junior and continues this year.

Students attend Washburn Tech to get a head start on their career for the future. To get the chance to attend Washburn they must take an Accuplacer test. If they pass, there are certain programs they can go into.

“The idea was promoted that it was available and a great opportunity for those students going into the technical field,” counselor Marilyn Workman said.

Students have a hands on learning experience where they can get a better understanding of what their career will entail. “I go to advance myself for the real world,” Gilbert said, “It advances my career in welding.”

During class they take apart engines and learn more about the field they are going into. Davis studies diesel mechanics, Thomas and Turner study automotive technology. Gilbert and Clark study welding.

“Industrial companies hired people out of Washburn, I get discounted tuition at Washburn University, and it’s just great learning all around,” Cebulski said.

— Laurel Barber, @lawl_e_20

Wabaunsee district hires social worker

Wabaunsee gained a new staff member, Melissa Watson, as the district Crosswinds School-Based Case Manager.

Watson will continue working with her current Crosswinds clients, some of whom are in Wabaunsee schools. She will provide social and emotional support to any K-12 students. In the future, she hopes to provide group work and in-service trainings.

Annie Frank, who is employed by the district’s service education cooperative with Rock Creek and Wamego, will still work primarily with students on IEPs.

Watson said her role will provide several benefits to the district. “The number one benefit will be bridging the services between the school and Crosswinds. I will be able to provide services to students that might not be able to get services and facilitate the referral process for Crosswinds. Another benefit is I am more accessible for crisis situations and I am able to implement necessary interventions.”

Staff members have been instructed to complete a Google Form recording observations of students displaying red flags. They will refer any students who exhibit alarming behaviors, such as isolation or other apparent struggles to Watson. Teachers are urged to call, text, or email her in crisis situations, when immediate help is needed.

“I am working with teachers and principals to identify crisis situations that may need immediate assessment and interventions that I can provide,” Watson said.

— Kendyl Bolinder, @BolinderKendyl

Technology director, English teacher to leave WHS

Two Wabaunsee staff members will be leaving the district for new opportunities.

Technology director Austin Lawrence announced he is leaving after nine years serving on the Wabaunsee staff. Lawrence accepted a job as I.T. Director at Hanover-Barnes-Linn school district in Hanover, where Lawrence and his wife Cindy are from. They plan to build a house and raise their family there. Cindy, who currently teaches fifth grade math and science at Paxico Middle School, will stay until the end of the school year.

“What I’m excited about with this new job is that it’s basically an opportunity to come in and improve another school district,” Lawrence said.

Although Lawrence is excited about this job opportunity, he says he will miss Wabaunsee greatly.

“The things we go through in life are sometimes bittersweet, and we all have them. This is one of those moments for me. I really cannot put into words how great all of you have been over my nine years here. You are a great group of people to work with and I wish you all the best in your future endeavors,” Lawrence said.

English teacher Laura Delfelder will be attending Veterinary School at Kansas State University this fall. She has wanted to be a vet her entire life, so this was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up. She is excited to continue her education, because she really enjoys learning. She’ll be at WHS for the rest of the year.

What Delfelder will miss most about teaching is her students.

“I’m gonna miss my students. That’s like the one thing that makes me almost want to cry thinking about,” Delfelder said

“I’m going to miss my English classes, but can’t wait to move onto the next chapter.”

— Kendyl Bolinder, @BolinderKendyl

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