Titan summer bucket list


BucketList Mag2A common complaint is that there is nothing fun to do in Nebraska. Don’t let this interfere with the perfect summer! With a little research an exciting bucket list can be created anywhere. When you are done reading the story, fill out your own bucket list.


Pop quiz! What is the Nebraska state soft drink? … Kool-aid! So of course there would be a Nebraska festival entirely devoted to it. There are turnip festivals in Massachusetts, so at least Kool-aid festivals are slightly more normal. This festival will happen in Hastings, NE on June 7 – 9th. If this festival isn’t interesting enough, it will also include the World’s Largest Kool-aid stand. Hastings is about a 2 ½ hour drive away, but how many opportunities to go to a Kool-aid festival will there be? This is definitely a must-have Nebraska summer bucket list item.


This event will be held on June 5 – 7th. On the 5th, teams will build giant sand sculptures in the parking lot of the century link center. The sculptures will then be judged and an award ceremony will take place. The next two days of the event will be viewing days of the sand art. There will also be entertainment, fun and bounce houses. This event is an annual event held to raise awareness and funds for the Nebraska Children’s Home Society. Admission is free for the two second days. When else will there be an opportunity to get a selfie with a giant sand sculpture? No summer is complete without one.


This event is keyed more towards English and theater nerds, but could definitely be fun for all. The event is free, although a small donation of $10-20 donation would be appreciated to help offset the cost of the production. This year, “Twelfth Night” will be performed on June 20-23rd and July 3rd, 5th and 7th. “Titus Andronicus” will run from June 27-30th and July 2 and 6th. The performances start at 8:00, but attendees are invited to come at 6:00 for fun and food to complete the “Shakesperience.”


Music festivals and concerts are a popular bucket list item for any time of the year. If you can’t get your music fix from shadow lake concerts and the occasional big name century link concert, check out these music festivals for must-have bucket list fun.

LOLLAPALOOZA – This 3 day music festival in Chicago is probably already on a lot of teen bucket lists for this summer. It will be held from July 31 to August 2nd of this year. Unfortunately, tickets are already sold out, so unless you have almost $2,000 for VIP seats you will have to get scalped tickets. Make sure you do enough research to make sure you are actually getting real tickets. If a deal is too good to be true, it probably is. Get on stubhub or other ticket sites that have a policy that protects you if you buy tickets that are not legit. Stubhub guarantees that the tickets they sell will gain you entry to the event or they will replace your tickets for ones that will.If you are interested in the lineup for Lollapalooza go to Lollapalooza.com. If you can’t afford or find tickets, consider simply putting a trip to Chicago on your bucket list, the city has lots of fun things to explore.

MAHA MUSIC FESTIVAL – The Maha music festival will take place at 12:00 pm, August 15th in Stinson park at Aksarben Village. Tickets are $50 for general admission and $175 for VIP. The lineup includes Modest Mouse, Atmosphere, Purity Ring, Wavves, The Jayhawks, Alvvays, Ex Hex, The Good Life, Speedy Ortiz, All Young Girls Are machine Guns, Freakabout, and BOTH. More information can be found on the maha music festival website.

NEBRASKALAND DAYS – This is a definite must-see for Country music fans. This North Platte concert series takes place from June 26th-27th. On the 26th Colt Ford will open for  Florida-Georgia Line and on the 27th Will Hoge will open for Thomas Rhett. Tickets are $59 for general admission to Florida-Georgia Line and $39 for Thomas Rhett. If anyone needs to get in touch with their Nebraska roots this summer, this is the way to do it!

VANS WARPED TOUR – The Vans warped tour is traveling across the country and will be in Kansas on July 30th. The concert will be in Bonner Springs, KS at the cricket wireless ampitheater. This is about a three hour drive from Omaha. General admission tickets are priced from $44.25 – $55.50 depending on if you want a 3D collector ticket or a regular one. The lineup includes 92 artists but is subject to change. You can view the lineup by going to the warped tour website, clicking on the dates tab, and then clicking on July 30th towards the bottom of the page.

NO COAST FEST – This exciting festival will be held on June 2nd at Westfair Amphitheatre in Council Bluffs, IA. The lineup includes Cage The Elephant, Bleachers, Joywave, Icky Blossoms, Saint Motel, In The Valley Below and others. Tickets are just $10 and can be purchased on etix.com or at Homers in the Old Market. Gates will be open at noon and the show will start around 1 p.m.. Set times will be posted on 897theriver.com soon.Don’t miss out on this exciting event, and put it on your bucket list now.


”The Shining” most people think of the Jack Nicholson movie, but they are disappointed when they visit the Stanley Hotel. The book that started it all was based off of the historic Stanley Hotel, this has made it a popular tourist destination for people visiting Estes Park, CO. But because the Jack Nicholson version was not filmed at the Stanley, visitors often confused by the difference. Visitors most commonly wonder where the giant 8-10 foot maze is. The horror film nerds would give them a long schpeel on how the Jack Nicholson version of “the Shining” was not filmed at the hotel like Stephen King wanted it to be and they took too many liberties when adapting the book and blah, blah, blah. But the Stanley hotel decided to remedy this for their annual horror film festival that was held from April 30 – May 3rd. They installed a 3 foot tall hedge that wraps around the front of the hotel. This hedge maze won’t be there just for the festival, but will be a permanent exhibit for the foreseeable future. Estes Park is about a 9 hour drive from Papillion, but this iconic hedge and the mountain views will be reward enough.


The college world series will be at TD Ameritrade stadium in Omaha from June 14 – 25th. It is still fun to go to a game, even if a certain team does not make it in. Baseball is still ‘America’s pastime’, so muster up enough patriotism to get to a game. Even if someone dislikes baseball, they can still have fun walking around the booths set up around the stadium in downtown Omaha or they can find solace in all of the wonderful foods sold in baseball stadiums. People from all over America put this one on their bucket lists, it would be incredibly wasteful to throw away this great opportunity in one’s hometown. Seize your summer, and get to the Old market for the College World Series.

Good News! It’s Summer



SLIDE THE CITY: One thousand feet of vinyl does not seem to serve a purpose in a place like Nebraska during the months of summer. However, lay it out on a hill and pour some water on it and those 1,000 feet turn into one of the biggest events of break. A giant three-lane waterslide will be hitting Papillion at the tail end of summer. The slide, which is longer than 3 football fields, will close 84th street from First to Sixth streets on August 1st. If one ride down the slide is enough for you, the price is $15, which includes a mouthguard, drawstring bag, and tattoo. But if you want some more bang for your buck, you can pay $30 for three turns, or $50 for VIP access. Be sure to go to slidethecity.com to get your tickets in advance, because like most events, the tickets will cost more the day of. The slide requires participants to use an inflatable, but that doesn’t put a damper on the fun. In fact, it makes you go faster. The slide will be in place all day and available for VIP sliders an hour before and after when it officially opens. You might be thinking of the long line that’s sure to be there, but there will be plenty to do while you wait your turn for this epic slide. The city of Papillion is providing live music, and food for those who attend. Don’t miss this opportunity! Who knows the next time you’ll be allowed to slide down the street.

ACTING OUT: Not only are there fabulous concerts going on this summer, there will also be some quality theater happening as well, with PL South students in the cast. Senior, Max Hauze will be in Mary Poppins will be at the Rose theater from June 5th to June 28th. The Sumtur amphitheater will hold the Wizard of Oz, and Spamalot, a spin-off of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, will be at the Omaha Community Playhouse from May 29 to June 28. Seniors Emily Tencer and Aaron Lawrence will be in the cast.

SUMTUR CONCERTS: Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Tomorrowland are causes of jealousy for many individuals. However, not many people notice the concerts that are happening right in good, old, Papillion. The Sumtur Amphitheater will be hosting quite a few marvelous events over the break. On May 29, The Decemberists will perform, and NEEDTOBREATHE will hit Papillion on July 23. Walk the Moon comes to town on August 3, and Twenty one pilots will take the stage on September 23.

GET CORNY: If there is one thing that Nebraska is known for, it’s corn. However, the vegetable doesn’t get as much recognition as one might think. The Sweet Corn Festival is a great place to start if you’re looking to add a bit of butter to your summer. The two-day shindig will be held at Lauritzen Gardens on August 8th and 9th. There will be hayrack rides, corn ice cream, live music, corn-on-the-cob, fresh kettle corn, and many more corny activities. Admission is $10, which includes access to the rest of the gardens which will be in full bloom.

HAVE A BERRY GOOD SUMMER: If vegetables aren’t your style, there is still a way to get home-grown produce without traveling very far. The Bellevue Berry Farm will be open all summer with a variety of fruits for your picking pleasure. Strawberry season is at it’s height at mid-June, and raspberry season goes from July to October. If you’re looking to get a little crazy, asparagus season is in May. Also the farm throws one heck of a Renaissance Fair. For only $12, you can experience giant turkey legs, live jousting, jesters, music, and games. The event will run the weekends of May 2nd, and May 9th, and minstrels will be singing it’s praises.

Controversy high around pot laws

WEB pot


Pot, weed, ganja, marley, trees, mary, good; all names for the infamous plant-drug marijuana. From leisure and recreation to medicinal uses, marijuana is used widely throughout the nation. It’s used so much that a few states have even legalized recreational use and distribution of this drug, which has been illegal (and still is federally) for many years. Colorado, along with Washington, Alaska and Oregon, has legalized marijuana for recreational use. In all, 23 states have legalized the drug either for recreational or medicinal use.

Colorado Amendment 64, or the “pot law,” states that anyone over the age of 21 may possess marijuana along with being able to grow up to six marijuana plants in a locked space.

These pot laws in Colorado directly impact all states around it, including Nebraska.

A Papio South freshman girl said, “It’s easier to get for all kids because many will just travel the few hours to colorado with an older person and buy it and bring it back.”

A sophomore boy said, “The laws make weed very accessible for anyone at any age, which brings a bad rep to the weed industry because younger people tend to abuse it.”

Officer Foster also agreed that the legalization of marijuana had increased trafficking and said, “If you’re a dealer and you’re over 21, you can go to Colorado and buy it and bring it back, which is why the western Nebraska law enforcement is so crowded.”

The attitudes and opinions on the drug and laws vary from person to person.

“If done right, I believe people can use the THC in the drug for good medical purposes,” Officer Foster said. “However, especially for teens, anything that alters the way you feel can’t be too good for you.”

A junior boy said, “(The laws) change the way people think. It changes how big of a deal weed actually is and makes it more acceptable because it’s legal just one state over.” He went on to say, “(Marijuana is) beneficial as a soothing stress reliever, but should not be an everyday thing.”

“The pot laws are great,” another sophomore boy said. “It’s making Colorado loads of money; every state should do it, because it keeps the people who use the drug out of prison.”

Some may make the argument that they “can handle it” or that marijuana doesn’t affect them in any way. Head principal Mr. Jeff Johnson said, “we see kids every day struggle with use. The usage zaps their drive and is the source behind most of their problems.” He went on to say, “(Marijuana is) just like alcohol, some people can handle it and others can’t, but in teenagers especially, it de-motivates them of their goals and desires.”

A freshman girl said, “The laws are not a good idea. By legalizing it in one state, all the other states will be influenced to legalize this drug, which is bad.”

Colorado has made $53 million taxing the recreational drug, but many feel that the legalization may not be worth it for moral reasons.

A junior girl said, “Anything that makes you feel different or changes your perspective shouldn’t be legal. Weed is a drug, that’s it. Also, it’s not good for you, especially if you smoke it.”

Some other concerns about student use have come to attention.

“Our job as educators is to prepare students for their future lives and careers,” Mr. Johnson said. “If the drug becomes a priority, then we cannot do our job, which is sad ,because you’re only in high school once and you really only get one shot.”

Legal or not, many choose to use this drug and end up on diversion or worse.

The big concern for many is that the choice to use could take over a life, changing priorities and altering the future.

Quitting activities and not focusing on school could be the cost, which in the long run might have consequences much more long-lasting than a bad grade or an angry coach.

When a student dies…


Many would like to believe that funerals are held for the dead, in honor of their life, but the truth is funerals are for the living, to help them cope with the inevitable process that comes with loss. Sometimes death can be big and scary, because many people live life wondering what comes next. The unknown is often feared; perhaps it is the idea of an end that cannot be controlled.

It is difficult accepting the temporary absence of a person – when they move away for college or work, or other life events; but, a person’s death is the ultimate absence.

GRIEF info boxSince death is naturally reserved for the elderly, when it reaches youth, especially in a school environment, the whole situation seems to become more complicated. It becomes a difficult topic to discuss because it’s touchy. Say one wrong thing, some people think, and everything might come crashing down.

Our school district has a crisis team in place to deal with difficult situations that might disrupt or endanger student lives. Jim Larson, a former Papio South administator and current IDEAL principal who serves on the crisis team, says the district works to anticipate and prepare for the unforeseeable. “It is important to know that no two situations are ever the same, so the tools need to be flexible to adjust to whatever the current situation calls for,” Larson said.

In the case of student death, no two students are likely to respond in the same way. Senior counselor Ms. Pat Terry said counselors and other school staff keep this in mind when talking with those affected. “Every one of us has different needs when it comes to grief,” Terry said.

Sophomore Sydney Marshburn, whose friend died last year, says she is still learning to cope with that loss. “What many people fail to realize is that there are different stages of the grieving process, such as denial, isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. And they don’t always happen in that specific order or in a set timeline,” she said.

Mental health expert Kevin McKenzie, a licensed clinical social worker who has worked with Sarpy County schools for the past 15 years, agreed that the grieving process can be “all over the place” for different people. “The key,” he said, “is accepting others for whatever stage they are currently in.”

Senior Haley Wert added that the tools needed to cope with grief aren’t one-size-fits-all. “Teenagers are amazingly resilient. We have an amazing capacity for dealing with grief, and, for some, a counselor is the best thing for them, but others [feel] time and silence are the only things required to heal,” Wert said.

Whether a death is sudden or the result of a long illness, students feel a sense of loss when one of their classmates is no longer around.

Senior Juliette Morales said she thinks the school does a good job of letting the student body know about a death and having resources available. “I feel comforted by the fact that they acknowledge death has an impact on everyone,” she said.

Still, others said the days after a tragedy are often confusing and sometimes frightening.

Junior Chase Gregerson said student death is difficult to handle and even more difficult to discuss. “It’s very hard to talk about a kid who died at such a young age. I think it scares a lot of people,” he said.

Wert described the feeling as affecting the whole school. “There is a resounding quiet through the halls the day after a student dies. It’s almost too quiet – as if everyone is holding their breath,” she said.

Why is talking about death so scary? We as students talk about it all the time. English is a prime example. Many of the books students read in high school end in some sort of tragedy. Students openly discuss fictional deaths, but when it comes to reality, some become silent.

McKenzie said that silence can be damaging in itself. “Talking literally changes the chemisty in your body to help you heal,” he said.

The sooner, the better, McKenzie added. He also emphasized that students should start by talking to an emotionally healthy adult whom they trust. “You should talk to someone as soon as possible,” he said. “The earlier you address it, the sooner the grief process can begin and eventually be resolved.”

Head Principal Mr. Jeff Johnson said the message he wanted to get out to students was that the school needs to hear from them when they are struggling with something. “At Papillion-La Vista South, we want to respond to the needs of our students. We also want our students to talk with us and tell us what they need,” he said. “Our counselors, social workers and crisis team members are trained to deal with any issues they may have or connect them with professionals in the community who can help. These services are always available through our counseling office. We just need to hear what our students need.”

McKenzie said students need to look out for one another, too. “If you’re concerned with someone, no matter how small it may feel, tell someone.”

Personal song gets online play


Coping is something we all have to find out how to do in tragic times, and we all do it differently. Sophomore Sydney Marshburn used music to cope with the death of a friend.

Marshburn revision-1During suicide awareness week, she posted her original song “Til’ We Meet Again” at an online music retailer. “For me, writing songs is a way to reflect on my feelings, what I observe, what I learn, and what I dream. … I wrote ‘Til’ We Meet Again’ as a way to cope with the loss of a classmate,” Marshburn said.

“Til’ We Meet Again” is available for purchase online, and Marshburn said any proceeds she receives will be donated to the Nebraska chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Marshburn said writing the song was not only to help other people, but herself as well, “It would be nice for others to walk away from hearing my song and realize they are more than they thought they were…. It gave me a better understanding to how many people are affected by suicide, and it doesn’t stop at just the victim.”

No matter if the person who passes away is a close friend, an acquaintance, or just another kid passed in the hallways, it can still have lasting effects.

When someone leaves without reason, whether it’s from them just walking out of your life, or death, there’s going to be confusion. You don’t have answers, and it may be hard to deal with sometimes. It is very important to spread the word that many people are willing and want to help. “I am hoping people who are thinking of suicide hear my song and reach out to a friend, family member, or someone they trust and ask for help… Don’t keep your emotions bottled up, lean on the support around you, and, with time, the painful memories will be overshadowed by the happier ones,” Marshburn said.

It’s not every day that you hear about a student coping in a way that also helps others cope. Her original plan was just to write the song but others convinced her to go further. “I honestly didn’t even think of putting my song [online] until I sang it for a friend and she said people dealing with similar situations should hear it… People have told me they thought it was beautifully done, heartfelt, and tragic at the same time,” Marshburn said.

It wasn’t just a walk in the park for Marshburn to get her song out there. “I spent many sessions with my guitar instructor working out the chords. We started in October and recorded it in his studio during our free time. I had to wait for the copyright process before being able to get it posted.”

Marshburn said the song gave her the opportunity to say the things she would have told her friend if she had known what she was contemplating.

In cases where a student does tell a friend about suicidal thoughts, mental health expert Kevin McKenzie said the friend should not hesitate in getting help from an adult. “If a friend reaches out to you late at night stating that they are thinking of committing suicide, there’s a reason they are contacting you. In a last ditch effort, they truly do want help,” he said.

Fears of breaking loyalty shouldn’t stop anyone, McKenzie said. “Dozens of times I have seen students do that. They are scared to death to do that – but forever grateful that they did. Because they saved the life of their friend.”

Marshburn said her own experience had taught her a new way of looking at life. “In many ways, I saw a lot of personal similarities in the situation and I learned that reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness,” she said. “The situation made me realize that everyone matters to someone whether they know it or not.”

10 Titan trailblazers


Seniors come and go, but their legacies are reflected all throughout our school. Every student has had a role whether as an athlete, artist, scholar or other type of individual who has left a mark. This mix of seniors was chosen because of achievements in high school as well as plans for the future.

Kendra Boyd

WEB BoydFuture – “I’m most excited to be joining a drum corps during the summer. It’s a continuation of marching band, in which I perform on the color guard.”

Past – “I’m most proud of my science fair project for the Zoo Academy. I got second in my division and learned a lot of valuable skills for what I’m planning on going to for college.”

Learned – “That you get out what you put in. You get to decide how to live your life.”

Jackie Jaramillo

WEB JaramilloFuture – “I’m most excited to play college softball at Wayne State – and meeting new people.”

Past – “Making it through my AP classes and being the captain of the high school varsity softball team.”

Learned – “I learned that you have to be able to organize your time well if you want to sleep, get good grades and still have a social life. And that you don’t always come out (of high school) with the same friends that you came in with.”

Maggie Murtha

WEB MurthaFuture – “I’m really excited to go to college because I’m going to be in Washington D.C., so there are a lot of opportunities out there that I think would be pretty cool.”

Past – “I think I’ve worked really hard academically, but then also I’m really proud of how involved I am with the theatre department, and how I still maintained my rank while still being involved.”

Best memory – “My most memorable moment would be performing West Side Story as the character Anybody, the tomboy, because I got to flip around the stage and stuff, it was pretty fun.”

Danielle Pham

WEB PhamFuture – “Definitely going to college and just meeting new people.”

Past – “Making it into National Honor Society and getting different awards for my academic achievements.”

Learned – “What I learned from school is that it’s definitely okay to not be the best at everything, that it’s okay to fail and it’s definitely okay to explore what interests you and what doesn’t.”

Cody Redford

WEB RedfordFuture – “Just living on my own and the whole freedom aspect of it. Being able to make my own decisions.”

Past – “I’d say that I’m proud of a lot of things that I’ve done at this school, but I think it all boils down to being proud of the school itself. Just being able to be a part of it and all the things that are school has done.”

Best memory – “As a school just being able to build a community over time and will continue, hopefully, even after we leave just be a domino effect, that we’ll all support each other in all parts of the school.”

Nick Robbins

WEB RobbinsFuture – “I’m looking forward to going to college and having my own space.”

Past – “I’m most proud that I’ve been involved in Titanium show choir and was the captain of the swim team for two years. So that was a lot of fun for me and it’s just great to be a part of a group of people like that.”

Learned – “By my senior year I learned that you have to do things for yourself, even if you are part of a team. Just make sure that it’s for you and not for everyone else, and when you’re in the classroom do things for yourself, for your grades, for your future.”

Jack Smith 

WEB SmithFuture – “I’m looking to go to college at Lincoln, and I want to get my degree in accounting.”

Past – “I’m most proud of the people that I have met and doing sports all four years and leaving with a positive reputation.”

Learned – “It’s important to take every day as it comes and to go to high school with a positive attitude because it makes everything better.”

Bradley Spencer

WEB BradleyFuture – “I’m looking forward to starting a career … and a family. I’m going to, most likely, the University of Northwestern St. Paul.”

Past – “I was on varsity for basketball sophomore through senior year and baseball junior and senior.”

Best memory – “Probably the most memorable was when we got back to school after we lost at districts last year in basketball. It was an end to my career here, and … my emotions hit me. I was probably the most thankful I’ve ever been in my life for all that my coaches have done for me. I will remember that forever.”

Jon Thow

WEB ThowFuture – “I’m going to get a full time job at Midlands working as a CNA tech, but this is also supposed to be the summer of our lives, or whatever, so I want to have fun, but at the same time I want to learn how to be mature.”

Past – “I am the president of band and I was a section leader, and band has helped me grow as a person, and I’ve helped a lot of kids like, I give them rides, or if they’re having a bad day I talk to them, and so I’m proud of how I’ve grown as a person through band.”

Learned – “Don’t try to bring your cat to school.”

Raina Watson

WEB WatsonFuture – “I’m taking a year off, but I’m also looking forward to figuring out myself and what I want to do because I feel like most of us have no clue. I’m just looking forward to getting out and starting my life and getting a job that has to do with what I like to do.”

Past – “My self growth, like how much I’ve grown and how much I’ve matured and how strong I’ve become in a matter of four years.”

Learned – “One thing I learned is that you’re not going to get along with everyone. You just have to accept the way things are.”

Is this REAL LIFE?


As an 18-year-old who has no clue how to use a stove, I have no idea why anyone would let me out into the world in just five short days. Yes, that’s right, it’s real life. Grab an inhaler, seniors, because you are graduating. Yep, I’m going to need to sit for a minute.

I’ve been anticipating graduation since I set foot into PL South, but now that it’s approaching, I may consider locking myself inside and building a fort in the rafters. Because, really, let’s face it, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING. This isn’t even me trying to give you a “How To” on navigating through your tortured, confusing college years that are approaching, this is me telling you that I’m pretty sure it’s OK to have no idea what life is.

Maybe I should learn how to do a load of laundry or stop eating off the kids menu at Buffalo Wild Wings. Maybe. But I am still technically not even an adult in the state of Nebraska. No, I don’t know where I’m going, but I know of some things I should probably learn. With the help of my lovely mother, Vicki, I’ve compiled a list of things you may want to know how to do within your first year as a college student.


No, I have no idea how to do laundry. Vicki is a saint. But I asked her for a quick how-to and she said, “Cassidy, I regret being so good to you.” She continued with, “Separate them into whites, colors, darks and delicates – always just bring the delicates back home or you’ll never forgive yourself,” most likely true. “Put in the right amount of detergent, it should be on the bottle, and if you can’t find where it goes just look at the other kids around you. Then, make sure to set the right temperature, darks in cold, whites in warm. Put the clothes in, start it, blah blah blah, take them out and put them in the dryer. The dryer is so self-explanatory, I won’t even respond if you ask.”


Trust me on this, you will never see me in a chef hat manning a kitchen. And if you do, I’m being held against my will. But, seriously, food is important. Not only because it can fulfill all of your dreams, but also because it just so happens to help keep you alive. Eating a well-portioned meal is essential to staying healthy. Even if that means you go to sample day at Target to get your fruit, then so be it, I know those strawberries are expensive. Do what you got to do. Hit up that stand for those tiny cups as many times as possible. Ramen noodles are great, but if that’s all you’re eating on your own, just call home and sound super miserable and you’ll get a care package in like 10 minutes.


Most people I know work at Kids Club, local restaurants or clothing stores, which will be fine as a college student. But if you’re like me, you’ll need to know how to get those jobs. First of all, you need to apply. Either go into the place you’re interested in working, or apply online. Once they’ve called you back because you have a super awesome application, you’ll need to go in for an interview. For this interview, you’ll need to dress business casual. You’re not trying to become the CEO of Microsoft here, but you’re also not having a Netflix binge day, either. A nice blouse and jeans and flats for ladies and the #frat look for the boys will be appropriate.

In an interview, they’ll try to get to know who you are and how you might fit in and contribute to the workplace. You should always let your personality shine through and talk about working at American Eagle like it’s your life’s mission. If they love you, they might hire you on the spot, and if they don’t call back within a few days, call and follow up to show your interest. If you don’t get the job, go try somewhere else.

Once you get a job, you’ll have a bank account where your paycheck will go, after taxes are taken out, of course. A portion of your paycheck each week, every two weeks, or however you’re paid, should go into savings for future need, and the rest into checking for easy access.


Unless you’re blessed with an amazing brain or athletic ability, chances are you’re going to have to pay for college. Don’t fear the seemingly bottomless pit of debt, because most of the time you can find scholarships or receive federal grants that will keep you from drowning in nonexistent money. But, really, it’s all you. The wonderful counselors here at PL South, SHOUTOUT TO YOU, YOU THA REALEST, have sent out lists and lists of scholarships you can apply for through Naviance. I thought Naviance was a mythical place in a different dimension that had a secret club of students who knew how to use it. Not the case.

FAFSA is a different story. You’ll have to sit down with your parents for what seems like 97 years and talk about weird things like taxes, but when you’re all done, you’ll get an e-mail saying how much money you get! Yay! But, wait, that’s your money now. You’re now taking out a loan. Based upon your parents’ income, you’re allowed to borrow x amount of money, while your parents may be left to pay another amount to cover the cost. If you’re eligible for grants, you don’t have to pay those back. So, when you get out of school, you’ll have your loans to pay off. Yes, I assume it really does suck. But, that’s life.


The first thing you should do is determine the type of loan you want. Let’s say it’s an auto loan. You’ll determine where you’re borrowing from, and let’s say that place is the bank where you have an account. Credit is a big factor in being given a loan, but most of us don’t have credit yet. This means you will most likely have to borrow less and pay more to build this credit. Sounds pretty jank, I know. You’ll then need to make a game plan. Figure out how much it will cost you each month to pay back this loan and the interest rates that come with it.

After you’ve gotten through that, you get to apply for the loan! Yep, you haven’t gotten it yet. This is like college applications all over again. Don’t cry, it’s fine. You go to the bank, tell the nice lady at the desk you’re interested in taking out an auto loan, and she will explain how to apply. You might be approved, you might not.


When it becomes too much, and it will, call your parents. You might think they like having you out of the nest, but your parents might actually love it if you call and ask for help. That’s what they’re there for. You don’t know everything, and that’s OK, because there are tons of people who have a better idea. So ask. Ask all the questions you can. Learn. LEARN! *High School Musical jump*

At ease, Commander Vinkavich


Lieutenant Commander Mike Vinkavich has been a part of PL South for almost as long as there was a school to be a part of, but after 11 years of leading the NJROTC program, he’s ready to retire. However, his legacy of enforcing the rules and keeping everyone in check will continue in the program for many years to come. Around the school he’s most well known for bringing order to the halls and the classroom. But to his cadets, he’s a second dad. “I’ll miss him so much,” junior Jaide Gaona said, “he’s just a teddy bear.” Vinkavich’s retirement plans include doing things when he wants to do them and maybe taking an executive position in the Nebraska High School Rugby Association.

“If I win the lottery between now and then, I’m going to buy a mobile home and just travel around the country to places my wife and I haven’t seen,” he said.

There will not be a time when he doesn’t miss teaching. “I think the most challenging thing is knowing that I won’t be returning next year to see cadets move into leadership roles and graduate,” he said.

Vinkavich will be leaving behind a championship winning NJROTC unit when May finally rolls around. This year alone the unit has won the Abraham Lincoln drill meet, the UNO drill meet, the Waynesville drill meet, the Bellevue drill meet, and hosted their own drill meet at PL South. The program won first place at nationals in 2012 and 2013. As the program has grown, the leadership has continued to grow and lead the unit toward bigger and better things.

“ ROTC has definitely helped me become a better leader, and Vinkavich really taught me how to respect others and when to have fun and when to be serious,” Gaona said. The program has jumped leaps and bounds since Vinkavich’s arrival and will continue to prosper with the help of the cadets and Senior chief Jeff Nichols.

When Vinkavich arrived at PLSouth a year after it opened, the program was on probation due to it’s small size and took a few years to grow.

“Once the cadets had some self-discipline, other students saw the respect the cadets were afforded by teachers, students, individuals and organizations in the community and wanted to join which resulted in getting our numbers above the minimum,” said Vinkavich. The next step was creating a drill team to compete with other NJROTC units.

The cadets put in countless hours of hard work and it payed off, the unit began to receive recognition and awards. Now they’re a distinguished unit with honors and travel to Florida every year to compete in nationals. “There’s a structure that people who aren’t in ROTC wouldn’t understand,” senior Jacquelynn Edwards said. “it’s changed everything because it’s a family.”

Even without Vinkavich they still plan to continue moving forward and getting better at what they do. The drill team practices every day after school until they get the routine down. “Drill is my favorite thing,” Edwards said. “We work really hard in and out of class.” The NJROTC cadets are among the most hard-working and dedicated students in the school, who will one day make excellent military men and women.

“Today, cadets are in NJROTC because they want to be, they want to learn self-respect and gain the respect from their peers and teachers and a number of them want to be part of our championship drill teams,” said Vinkavich

After a 21 year career in the navy and 11 years of teaching, Vinkavich’s retirement is well deserved. He’s been involved with the navy since 1977, when he got out of high school and attended boot camp in Illinois. After graduating from college he returned to the navy and completed 8 deployments over the course of the next 15 years. Throughout his military career, most of his time was spent in instructor positions, which planted the seed for teaching later in his life. He takes pride in his cadets, and not just in knowing they’ll grow into successful military members, but in knowing that they’re model citizens. “I hope they have a better understanding of the world around them,” said Vinkavich.

Riensche leaves a harmonious legacy


For years the Papillion-La Vista South vocal music office was inhabited by an interesting, unexplainable object mysteriously hanging from the ceiling…a brown hair tie. This hair tie spent years dangling by an unknown, magical power. No one knew how it got there, no one knew how it managed to stay, and absolutely no one dared to remove the hair tie. Eventually custodians learned never to touch it, students placed sticky notes around the hair tie warning no one to move it, and every day everyone looked up at the ceiling to double check to make sure it was there. This may have been an ordinary-looking hair tie, but the fate of the Papillion-La Vista South Choir depended on it.

(Not so) long ago, when the hair tie was discovered to be much stronger than everyone figured it would be, Cheri Helmer-Riensche, the vocal music director, announced that the day that magic hair tie fell from the ceiling would be the year she would retire. For years, all was safe and sound within the choir until students returned after summer break to discover the hair tie was missing in action. Everyone was shocked, Riensche had no knowledge, and mass texts and messages were sent throughout current and previous choir students with the news: Riensche’s hair tie fell. No one knew what was to happen next, if she would really abide by her declaration, but everyone took a moment to consider…was Riensche retiring this year?

Senior Titanium dance captain Aaron Homme remembers the day he heard the news. “I couldn’t believe it, I thought that thing was gonna be stuck up there. But when it fell, it felt like it was a good time to fall. All I could really think was, ‘well, I guess this is it.’”

In October 2014, Riensche announced her retirement to her students and staff. Many tears were shed but everyone was motivated to try their hardest to make this year the best they could for the woman who started it all.

Of course Riensche did not base her retirement on a hair tie stuck to a ceiling. For those who don’t know her, she’s got a strong sense of humor, and she’s one to crack jokes…whether they make sense or not.

Riensche’s retirement is an award after her long run of education and success. She graduated from Wayne State with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Choral Music Education and has been teaching secondary choral education for forty years. She began her run with  three years at Randolph High School, followed by fourteen years at Seward High School, and then eleven years at Omaha Benson High School. She won Teacher of the Year Awards from Seward High School (1992) and Benson High School (2000.)

In 2003, she was one of the original teachers to begin at Papillion-La Vista South. There she began the Titan Choir and show choirs. Papio south alumni and spanish teacher Paige Clouse was one of the firsts to be in the beginning choir and Titanium show choir. Since then, Riensche took a program of 43 and grew the department into a group of over two hundred singers.

Riensche has been a part of freshman Logan Lawrence’s life even before he attended Papio South. Lawrence has watched his two older brothers learn and grow under Riensche’s guidance in the choirs and show choirs. “She’s been an inspiration not just as a teacher but watching her conduct not just me, but my brothers and other people around,” says Lawrence said.

Along with her position at Papio South, Riensche has been in the American Choral Directors Association, Nebraska Music Educators Association, Nebraska School Activities Association, and ran two terms as president of the Nebraska Choral Directors Association. She was inducted as an Admiral in the Nebraska Navy and was the first recipient of the Wayne State College “Outstanding Alumna Award for Excellence in Teaching.” She was inducted into the Nebraska Music Educators Hall of Fame in 2008 and has also won the Yale Distinguished Music Educators Award from the Yale School of Music. She was one of 48 to win the award and the only winner from the Midwest. Today this remains her most prized award.

Not only has Riensche made a big impact on the Midwest music community, but she’s made an even larger impact on the students that go through her program. Senior vocal captain Jenna Vrable  was changed for the better by being a member of the choir department. “Mrs. Riensche has been a safe haven for me personally starting with my freshman year. Although I was greatly intimidated by her, she made it possible for me to learn who I was and start to shine. I was just another shy face in the crowd as a freshman and Mrs. Riensche’s influence through the choir and show choirs really helped to give a voice to the person inside me waiting to bloom.”

Many students in the program feel the exact same way as Vrable. Most find comfort in the walls of Riensche’s office and enjoy spending time in the choir room as much as they can. The amount of students filing in and out of her office creates a very busy and sometimes chaotic atmosphere, but Riensche still manages to get work done. Not only does she teach at Papio South, but she manages two show choirs,  adjudicates for other choirs/show choirs, masters many rounds of Bejeweled, teaches at music camps in the summer, and is respected as a go-to coach throughout the Midwest choral community. She finds great opportunities for the choir, and hooks them up with incredible performances with the Omaha Symphony. This year, the Papillion-La Vista South Concert Choir sang Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Requiem with the Omaha Symphony, along with many Broadway musical numbers.

She’s taken the choir and show choirs on exciting trips to competitions held at the Corn Palace, Branson, Chicago, and Winter Park. In previous history, the choirs have placed very well in most of their competitions, and always left their audience and judges astounded by their pure, choral sound.

Most students are used to the craziness of show choir season, but this year was especially different. Senior Austen Weeks has been in Titanium for the past three years, and he wanted to make it special, “This year/season differed from the previous years for the obvious fact that it was Riensche’s last year. It was very emotional and I was proud that she saw our class through to the end. Not only was it my last year it was hers too and that’s what gave me and others the motivation to do our very best for her.”

This competition season, the three show choirs had an excellent run. Riensche is in charge of directing the JV prep show choir, Titan Express, and the varsity show choir, Titanium. This year, Titan Express placed third-runner up at Norris, second in their division at Sloan, sixth overall at Sloan, and beat their top component, Westside High School, by placing first in their division at Lewis Central. Titanium had a very competitive season and took home third runner up at the Corn Palace and Crystal Cup, second runner up at Grand Island High School, first runner up at Lewis Central, and grand champions at Norris. Along with their placement awards, Titanium also won best vocals, best choreography, and tied with Titan Express for best costumes. Most importantly, Papillion-La Vista South took home the Gary Fiscus Family Sportsmanship Award, an award in honor of Riensche’s former colleague.

The choir/show choir season came to an end at the beginning of spring break, when the choir took a ski trip to Winter Park, Colorado. Not only was it the last competition of the year, but it was Riensche’s last competition, and all the students had a blast skiing and competing one last time with their beloved teacher. “My favorite memory with Riensche just happened this year in Winter Park. When we were performing the song ‘Homeward Bound’, she started conducting and shortly after the song started she burst into tears. She cried throughout the remainder of the song and as the piece came to its end she mouthed the words ‘I love you’ to the choir…I will never forget that moment and being a part of it was one of the best moments of my life,” Weeks says.

The choir was awarded with a superior rating and placed first runner-up against a tough competition of prestigious choirs. Titanium was given a superior rating and won grand champions of the show choir division.

Now that the choral season has reached its end, students are preparing to say goodbye to their mentor, teacher, director, and friend. Senior Cody Redford says, “She understands that she’s done her work and is leaving a legacy at Papio South.”

“My legacy I hope to leave behind is one that represents pride for our school and striving to become the best that we can be. Mediocracy was never welcome in my classroom unless it was the best they could do. Building strength and trust through relationships also was a key component to build success,” says Riensche.

The director of the Millard North vocal music program, Scott Dugdale, is to be the new director of the Papillion-La Vista South vocal department. Students are excited and nervous for this new transition, but they know they will always hold Riensche in their hearts. “Next year without her, she’ll still be here in many ways,” says Redford.

Riensche is planning to enjoy her retirement with her husband, Roger Riensche, who substitutes for Papio South. They plan on doing things together that are not just related to music and education. Riensche has the opportunity to travel to China for several weeks to help build a high school music curriculum for the upper level Chinese student.

“I will continue to adjudicate and guest conduct as long as the telephone rings,” says Riensche. “And then who knows, I may actually learn to Twitter, tweet, and log-in to Facebook.”