Who says a woman can’t be president?


WomanPrez.sept.30“Can a woman be president?” That question has been discussed in every single history class I have ever been in. And every class has come to the consensus that yes, a women could be president but they agree that our society ‘isn’t ready’. I’m not convinced this is the correct answer anymore.

Before applying this to mean the President of the United States, let’s take a look at the leaders that are in our community. Think of some leader you know. What gender are they? What leadership qualities do they possess? And think, do these leadership qualities stem from their gender? The answer to the last question is probably no.

Most of my experience with strong leaders has been with strong female leaders. Out of my four years of high school nearly all of the presidents of clubs I have been a part of have been female. I have had female editors of the magazine and female key club and student council presidents. At statewide student council conferences, I have noticed the presence of female leaders holding offices. There are currently female presidents of student councils at Lincoln Southwest, Millard North, Millard South, Skutt Catholic, Westside and even here at Papillion-La Vista South.

I know that being president of a high school club is nothing like being president of the United States, but  the leadership roles equate to each other on their respective levels. In the adult world of the United States, the president is top dog just like in the student council world the state president is top dog.

What does it take to be president? We all know that the President is the head of state, the head of government, has a cabinet full of secretaries and makes lots of important decisions as head of the executive branch. But a strong leader of either sex could definitely handle these responsibilities.

According to Hannah Keator, President of the Student Council at Westside High School, in order to be a strong president, one must be “personable, open-minded and have the ability to direct others.”

Some candidates in the presidential race may not possess all of these qualities. In general, I do not see a quality listed exclusive to one gender. The qualities needed to be president depend upon the individual.

So why on earth has there not been a female head of our fine country? There has to be a reason women have been excluded from the Cool Kids Club for 200 years.

“A woman has yet to become president of the United States because we haven’t completely escaped the patriarchal ideology that founded our nation,” Rachael Packard, president of National Honor Society at Papillion-La Vista South High school, said. “There are plenty of women today running other nations.”

While yes, the legislative make-up still looks a lot like the founding fathers, the founding fathers are not currently alive and perpetuating stereotypes. These issues of race and gender are only still around because there are still people who perpetuate them. 200 years ago the rich, white, educated men had the power to choose whom they wanted in their little lawmaking club. In the 21st century, we should be aware that, though we may have different bodily organs and skin colors, we all matter and are capable of representing groups of people and voting on issues in stuffy little chambers. Several other countries around the world seem to get this better than we Americans do.

Germany, Croatia and Switzerland are among the list of countries led by women today. With a strong female candidate running in each political party, the United States could soon join the list. Both Carly Fiorina and Hillary Clinton are big names in their respective parties.

Even though we have strong female candidates, this does not mean that our society is treating men and women equally. Donald Trump was able to make horribly sexist comments about Carly Fiorina with little repercussions. Trump actually said, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!” Let me make this clear – those words really came out of his mouth. Trump got away with his comments by later claiming he was describing Fiorina’s “persona”.

Fiorina took the comments in stride and turned them into a series of power statements for her campaign. She responded with, “Ladies, look at this face, and look at all of your faces – the face of leadership.” And also with,“This is the face of a 61 year old woman, I am proud of every year and every wrinkle.”

Comments like these are proof of how it may take more work for women candidates to get the public to take them seriously. They must overcome individual prejudices and two centuries of tradition for the victory. These issues are displayed in the biased media that has had little practice reporting upon female candidates.

Some media outlets have described female candidates’ outfit choices while failing to mention the color of the male candidate’s suits. These small and seemingly insignificant differences in the way men and women are treated can impact how the United States views that candidate. Voters may have a hard time thinking seriously about candidates with fashion run-downs included in the articles about their speeches.

“In order for a woman to get voted into office, I think it starts with each and every one of us. We have to treat men and women with equality all around,” said Alexa Narke, President of Student Council at Skutt Catholic High School.

Is our society ready for a woman president? That  is up to you.

Nothing to do?


How many times have you received a text reading, “I’m bored” or asked someone, “What’s up?” and ended up with the classic reply: “Nothing.” Millions. Billions. Maybe trillions of times. ATTENTION: A CURE HAS BEEN FOUND. If you’re on your 20th episode on Netflix, if you’ve clicked “Continue Watching” multiple times, get off the couch. Turn off Netflix, put down the remote put your hands behind your back and get the heck out of your house.

Face it, each day it’s getting colder; each day, the days become shorter. Soon Nebraska will be in the endless abyss of winter. Outside won’t be an option when those winds hit. Go outside while you still can, escape the familiarity of Papillion life, and find some excitement!

Roberts Skate Park
78th and Webster Street, Omaha
Grab a skateboard and hit the ramps. This park’s 14,000-square-foot design allows various skill levels. Bring a friend to carry you off, worst-case scenario.

Mt. Crescent Zip Line
17026 Snowhill Lane, Honey Creek, Iowa
Missing the thrill in your life? Attention, adrenaline junkies, this is the activity for you! Cross over to our neighbor (Iowa) and visit this zip line! Fly 300 feet in the air, traveling about the length of five football fields. Welcome to one of the longest zip lines in the country. One zip line ride, $25; three for $40.

Lauritzen Gardens
100 Bancraft St., Omaha
Take a trip to Omaha’s botanical gardens before it gets too cold. Open daily. Admission: $10 adults, $5 ages 6-12; younger than 6, free.

Farmers Market
Between Jackson  and Harney Street, Omaha
Love food? Visit Omaha’s farmers market, in downtown Omaha. Stock up on fresh fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods and items. Last day of the market is Oct. 17.

Hefflinger Dog Park
112th and West Maple Road, Omaha
Give your dog some love, and hit up this park. P.S. Your dog wants treats.

The Ranch Run
285 S. 20th St., Elkhorn
Run for a cause! There will be a 5K, 10K, 10-mile and cowpoke kids run. Race day is Oct. 18. The run will raise money for Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Academy. Following the race there will be a chili feed, awards and a vendor fair. For details, visit skylineranchrun.com.

The price of fandom just went up


This school year Papillion-La Vista Community schools raised the price to purchase an activity ticket.

This has caused concern among some students and parents purchasing these tickets. The price has risen $15 (from $35-$50).

Jeremy Van Ackeren, the athletic director of PLSHS says the prices have risen due to budget cuts in the district.

“We are building new schools, so we have to support new schools with more teachers; that becomes more expensive.

Van Ackeren believes $50 is a reasonable price, “By buying those we hope kids go to a lot of events and support one another; that’s the primary goal.”

There are some differences in who has to buy an activity pass according to the school.  “Some schools make kids buy an activities pass, if they’re a cheerleader, if they’re a dancer, if they’re in
band, if they’re in choir, if they’re in an activity period. For the most part here its kids that are in sports, and band” Van Ackeren said.

Both Papillion-La Vista high schools  compared their policies with other area schools’ when setting the new. “Millard is totally different, they charge an activity fee and you have to buy a pass on top of it. Their participation fee is $60 and that does not include their pass,” Van Ackeren said.

Although PLSHS matches other schools in the district, they do not plan on matching Millard on this policy.

The school has to be careful on the amount they spend, and what they spend the activity ticket money on. “We try to use that money to benefit all of our kids; and buy something that most if not all of our kids will use. This year we got a new ice machine in the training room that produces about 3x more ice than our old one did. A lot of our people use that. I know the band sometimes uses that one for their water jugs,” Van Ackeren said.

The old ice machine was the original ice machine. “We have the old one in the stadium so if we need extra ice we can go to the stadium and get it too,” Van Ackeren said.

Van Ackeren said there are other areas of the school in need of renovation, such as the theater.

“We need a new curtain; those aren’t cheap. So that’s one of our primary concerns right now.”  The seats also need to be re-upholstered, Van Ackeren said.

The area between the baseball and softball fields is also being considered. “There’s an area between the two fences, quite a bit of area that’s just grass, we want to figure out what to do with. We have to keep it mowed. Maybe we could use it for some football practice; for our junior titan kids,” Van Ackeren said.

Some replacement is also being considered in the softball and baseball fields. “We need two new scoreboards down there at baseball and softball. Last night we had our first softball game
down there, and [the scoreboards] quit on us,” Van Ackeren said.

Because students aren’t required to buy an activity ticket, Van Ackeren believes the rise in price will not affect the purchases from these particular students. “If they’re going to attend a lot of events, it’s well worth it,” Van Ackeren said.

Some students qualify for free and reduced lunch, their set activity pass price will not waver, Van Ackeren said.

The efforts to recover from budget cuts began last year. Last school year PLSHS started charging for lower level games. These include junior varsity, reserve and freshman. Admission to these games is currently $3 for an adult, and $1 for a student. This
change will also help with the budget cuts.

One idea in consideration is the use of student ID’s as an alternative to a paper pass. “On picture day if they bought an activity ticket an A would be printed on their ID so when they went to games all they had to do was show their Id; and their pictures on there that way if you brought your ID to the gate I would know if it’s you or not. We can save some money by doing that, we don’t have to print a bunch of cards,” Van Ackeren said.

Titan athletes recognize team players


Sports are a big deal at our school, and so are our athletes. Everyone knows that star player, but there’s a lot more that makes up a team. We gave some standout athletes the chance to shed some light on teammates who’ve been standing out to them at practice and in competition.

BOYS CROSS COUNTRY: Logan Clark (Nominated by A.J. Knowles)

“Logan Clark put a lot of hard work in this summer, and he’s ready to have a big season. … I see a lot in the future for him. He’s been working really hard and he’s cut a lot of time. … The sky’s the limit for him.” PHOTO BY CHANDLER ASHBURN

FOOTBALL: Gunner Todorovich (Nominated by Triston Fairchild)

Todorvich WEB“Gunner Todorovich is just an overall athlete. He has a lot of match-up ability and he’s really big. He also gets to the ball well and he plays really well on the defensive side. … He can do whatever he wants in the sport, I feel like with some hard work. He’s blessed size wise and talent wise.” PHOTO BY NIKKI WILLIAMSON

GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY: Olivia Kastens (Nominated by Anna Milton)

“Olivia Kastens is a freshman who made varsity. She has a humble yet driven attitude. She always says, ‘Great job,’ and pushes herself. … She’s a strong leader and great runner. She really helps push the team.” PHOTO BY CHANDLER ASHBURN

GOLF: Chandler Ashburn (Nominated by Hayley Moulton)       

“Chandler Ashburn started out never really playing before, and she’s improved a lot. … I see her eventually making varsity, because she’s going on her own and practicing … and she always keeps a positive attitude.” PHOTO BY EMI LESSER

SOFTBALL: Emma Kauf (Nominated by Madison Finley)      

Kauf WEB“Emma Kauf is a freshman who is our starting catcher. She stands out because she’s a leader and is a great player. She works really hard and does a lot of great things for our team and will continue to succeed as she gains more experience and gets older. She’s someone who has a lot of character and is a great person.” PHOTO BY EMI LESSER

TENNIS: Nathan Jatczak (Nominated by Aaron Palensky)    

“Nate Jatczak really knows how to help encourage others and to be mentally tough. … He can help with the younger people and be a leader to them.” PHOTO BY JESSICA BISHOP


VOLLEYBALL: Jessica Hendricks (Nominated by Reagan LeGrand)  

Hendricks WEB“Jessica Hendricks is a freshman who kind of came out of nowhere, and she works her butt off every day. You can tell she genuinely wants to be at practice. It’s fun to be around her. … If she keeps working the way she does, I think she can play college ball – with her work ethic.” PHOTO BY MORGAHN SECORD


Gay-Straight Alliance seeks ‘Safe’ culture


Titans Unite, the school’s official Gay Straight Alliance, is growing in both strength and number. It is a safe space for LGBT+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and other orientations) students and allies alike to gather and find support.

“It’s like a family,” senior Tatum Petersen McIntyre said. “We watch out for each other. After a new person comes to the GSA, I talk to them when I see them around. I offer them a place to sit at lunch.”

What makes a ‘safe space’ safe?

Brier Hall, one of the GSA’s sponsors, says that one of their expectations for people joining is having an open mind. That ensures safety. “This year, there are more active adults participating. They’re there to keep the environment secure,”  Hall said.

Titans Unite is a safe place because things that are said there are not shared outside of the group,” junior member Ian Johnson said. “And if there’s an issue, it is taken care of right away.”

Regarding discretion, Titans Unite is more public than ever.  Jenna Lopez, a social worker and the newest sponsor of the GSA, says that this isn’t a cause for concern. “Discretion can ensure safety, but it can cause people to harbor shame. We’re promoting that you shouldn’t have to hide – that’s why we’re out and about. People have to be willing to put themselves out there for other people. You have to speak up when the space becomes unsafe,” Lopez said.

Weekly Meetings

Discussions held at weekly meetings cover a wide variety of topics, from how to raise awareness for the group itself to what’s happening in the community and news pertaining to LGBT+ people.

“We talk about what is happening in our community and events that are coming up, things that we are planning to do. We can talk about things happening in the school, and possible ways we can address them,” Johnson said.

“We can talk about our experiences as LGBT+ youth,” Petersen said.

Senior Skylar Diaz, previous club President, stresses that this group isn’t just for LGBT+ students, and that that’s a real part of its welcoming environment. “Members won’t be worth less for not being LGBT+. All have a fair say. If someone feels a question could be inappropriate, for example, we still want them to ask it – they’ll be safe from judgment and harm here.”

Soon, Titans Unite will be working on fundraising and starting a Book of the Month discussion where they’ll read and talk about an LGBT+ positive book.

“Sometimes we have a deep convo session where we all talk about personal things,” Johnson adds. Members, however, are never pressured into sharing experiences or personal information that they are not ready or willing to discuss. Conversation turns this personal on the free basis of however much or however little someone wants to share and there is confidence that whatever is shared with the group stays with the group.

What does Titans Unite want to be known for?

The school district’s latest thought provoking slogan is “What do you want to be known for?” This question was raised with the students and staff of the GSA…

In summary, “Helping people in general is the goal,” Petersen said. “We want to help people come to terms with their sexuality, inform people, and create a place for everyone. We’re already achieving this by creating the group and maintaining it.”

Look Out For Ally Stickers

A recent development inclusive of LGBT+ students has been the distribution of ally stickers. Teachers have been putting them both in their windows and inside of their classrooms to designate that they are an ally and are comfortable to talk about LGBT+ specific issues with students. The sponsors of the GSA are responsible for their initial printing, and have been leaving stacks in the mailroom for staff to take and use as desired. It is worth noting that the lack of an ally sticker does not mean a teacher is prejudiced – students are advised, when at risk or in need of a trusted adult, to first turn to the teacher who knows them best. In any other situation, or should something come up in the hallways, turn to a classroom with the pink triangle on display to be guaranteed a safe place.

Why is this important?

“LGBT+ people aren’t going away. People are feeling that it’s safer to come out because there’s more societal support. We’re a part of that – we should be on the right side of history,”  Lopez said. “It’s not all about LGBT+ people, it’s about feeling compassionately curious about other human beings. But this is a matter of life and death for some students, because without definitive safe spaces and support, LGBT+ youth are at high risk of depression, harm and suicide – three times that of their same aged peers. It’s important for the safety of our students at Papio South that we do something.”



Some people use THEY PRONOUNS. “They” can be a singular pronoun for a GENDERVARIANT individual. These are people that don’t feel that they are girls or boys, with varying degrees of fluidity between masculine and feminine tendencies.

CISGENDER means you identify as what you were assigned at birth.Think of it as the opposite of…

Being TRANSEXUAL means being a gender different from your biological sex. CAITLYN JENNER is a transexual woman.

QUEER is often a coverall term for anyone identifying as LGBT+. It is sometimes preferred as reclamation of the slur and a coverall term for identity without specifics.

PANSEXUALITY is similar to BISEXUALITY, but inclusive of GENDERVARIANT IDENTITIES (being attracted to both the opposite and the same sex, or someone inbetween).

ASEXUALITY is a lack of sexual attraction, in varying degrees between individuals. Some asexuals have relationships. Others don’t.

School grant increases mental-health options


During any school orientation one of the first things said is that school is a safe place for all students. With the help of a new grant valued at $650,000, Papillion La Vista Community Schools now have more tools to make that a reality.

So what exactly does this grant do? A key component is providing

“When kids were dealing with depression and all types of different things, we would call parents and say, ‘OK, here’s the name of a person you can call to set something up for your son or daughter.’ Now, we’re able to say we actually have somebody right here in our building that can visit with your son or daughter,” explained head principal Jeff Johnson, who is part of the committee in charge of

It’s far more convenient for students and parents, according to mental-health expert Kevin McKenzie, who said that instead of trying to find a time for the student to travel all the way out to his office, he can meet with the students for hourlong sessions at school. The sessions cover all varieties of teen issues such as anger, school difficulties, parent conflict and other problems.

Another way the district is reaching its goal of making sure students have a safe environment is with the at-risk program. This program is not provided through the same grant, but the intended result is the same.

The Nebraska Department of Education approved this program to make teachers and faculty better at seeing the signs that a student needs help.  Through simulated interactions, teachers learn how to tell when a student is struggling and how to properly interact with that student.

The program focuses on suicide prevention, chronic disease, PTSD, behavioral health, substance abuse and brief intervention.
Teachers are required by state law to go through at least one hour of the training.

“Teachers oftentimes are unsure about how to approach students about mental-health issues, or approaching the topic of it, whereas this encourages teachers to talk,” said Dr. Mike Musil, a Papillion-La Vista South English teacher who already completed the training.

What this means for the students is that there are more ways for them to get help if they need it. Instead of feeling alone, students can talk to people who are qualified to help. Those qualified people don’t even need to be strangers with fancy degrees – it can now be a student’s favorite teacher.