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Summer To-Do List

While getting out of school for the summer is an exciting time for most students, you may be at a loss as to what to do to fill all of your time. Here are some ideas of things to do unique to the Omaha area.  
The Omaha area has access to one of the top zoos in America, if not the world. The African Grassland exhibit is set to open this summer with the African Lodge, Elephant Family Quarters, and the Giraffe Herd Room open now. Other zoo attractions include the Red Barn Park, the Lied Jungle, the Desert Dome, the Kingdoms of the Night, and many more. There’s also a Skyfari and train for fun transportation.  The zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and the admission price for one adult is $18.95.
Sokol Park in Bellevue is bringing drive-in movies back for the summer. The titles have a wide range including but not limited to: “Finding Nemo” (June 2), “Zootopia” (June 12), “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (June 16) and “Jurassic Park” (July 14). Prices range from $5 to $10 depending on the car and the movie. The movies start at dusk and the gates open at 7 p.m.
One perk of living in a smaller city is the seemingly endless number of local parades and carnivals. In La Vista, the Salute to Summer Festival will be May 26-29 with a parade, carnival, cookout, fireworks, concerts, a family pool party, and many other attractions. Papillion Days will be June 15-19, with the Papillion Days Parade at 2 p.m. that Saturday, June 18. Other celebrations include Elkhorn, Springfield, and Gretna Days and many others in the Omaha area.
One of the best things to do to cool off during summer is to jump in the water for a bit. Maybe you have a friend or relative with a pool or lake in their back yard, but if not, the Papillion-La Vista area has great options. There are multiple membership-based pools, but if you just want to go a few times, Papio Bay offers daily admission up to $5.50 for adults during day hours. The pool opens May 28 and closes Sept. 5 so you have plenty of time to go make a splash.
If you don’t want to spend money or don’t have transportation, there’s a good chance there is a public park somewhere near you. Right across from PLSHS is Walnut Creek Recreation Area, which has a 105-acre reservoir, picnic areas, a playground, equestrian and dog areas and a 3.5-mile walking trail. Another option is City Park, which has a playground with a merry-go-round, restrooms, and a spot for a band. Schwer Park has a unique attraction: a splash pad, or a water playground. Other parks include Hickory Estates, Hickory Hill Tara Hills, Overland Hills, Monarch Place, Veterans and Halleck parks, and many more.
Another idea for a free and easy thing to do is to go geocaching. If you’ve never heard of that, it’s an international exploring activity in which geocaches of different sizes are hidden in millions of different places. There are more than 4,000 near the Omaha area alone. The app, called Geocaching, is free at App Store and  gives the locations of most of the geocaches, so go start exploring.

The secret summer lives of teachers


Teachers, believe it or not, have lives outside of school. Most teachers have families, second jobs or hobbies that we, as students, are almost completely unaware of.

English teacher Mr. Troy Ackerman runs a lawn mowing business over the summers and has been involved in his business for 10 years. He uses the manual labor as a way to recharge from the school year, as well as a way to connect with other people.

Ackerman is one of the many teachers who would like to travel more over the summers. His most memorable summer was a summer spent in Cabo, down in Baja California, because it was a change of scenery and wasn’t here in Nebraska.

Ackerman isn’t the only teacher who wishes there were more time over the summer for things like travel.

Mr. JD Davis, a history teacher here at Papio South, said with the amount of time he spends during the summer with his grandson, and preparing for the upcoming school year, it leaves no time for travel.

Not only does Davis spend time with friends and family, he is the drummer for a local cover band called eNVy. He joined the band when he was approached by the current lead singer, a friend from church, and asked to accompany her.

“People liked it, so we kept going,” Davis said. The band, eNVy, performs throughout the summer. 

Even with this busy schedule, Davis still finds time to prepare for the upcoming school year, looking for new activities and ways to teach. “I love this place,” he said.

Driver’s Ed may be a ticket to freedom


For the average 16-year-old, driving may be considered a luxury, but not having a license would be a struggle. An easy way to prevent that could be trading in three summer days for a class that will pay off with the freedom to drive. Even though those days are almost equivalent to a school day, it will be worth it in the end.

A former participant in summer Driver’s Ed, Lacie Vacanti, said the class made the DMV process easier, as well. “You don’t have to take the written test,” she said. Another plus Vacanti mentioned was a drop in insurance costs. “Lots of teenagers crash and are not experienced enough,” she said. Insurance agencies reward those who successfully complete Driver’s Ed by reducing the rates they pay each month.

Rachel Ausenbaugh also took a drivers education class, but hers was from Cornhusker. “Nothing big was different,” she said, “just the teachers.”


Driver’s Ed offered at Papio South

  • Instructor: Stan Troxel
  • Dates: June 13-24
  • Driving: June 14-22
  • Times: 8-10 a.m. or 10 a.m. to noon
  • Cost: $350
  • For more information talk to Mrs. Morrow in Career Ed or at


  • Classes June 6- Aug. 3 still available
  • It’s in a span of three days and 20 hours, plus and additional 3-5 of driving
  • Where: Westside Community Conference Center
  • Cost: $375

Start building career skills in high school


Being in high school doesn’t mean you can’t get a headstart on your career. Several colleges and even companies provide opportunities such as internships, workshops, and career shadowing.

Renee Mead, a guidance counselor at Papillion-La Vista South High School in charge of academies and testing, explains that there are classes and activities at Metro Community College, UNO and UNL that progress careers. Most revolve around STEM and robotics.

Randy Stribley, teacher of manufacturing and robotics, explained, “During school, we have 24 students in the STEM Academy job shadows. This year over the summer that ranges for about 20 hours. Those are juniors, going-to-be seniors.”

UNL had much information on its website: “Students who have completed two or more years of their high school education and have an interest in architecture, landscape architecture or interior design are encouraged to apply.”

Most opportunities are for upperclassmen, but it makes for an early start to these careers.

Tech specialist has secret train life


Fee, fie, fiddly-i-o, our district-wide information technology specialist has been workin’ on the old railroad. Mr. Rick Zorko has a mix of the best of both worlds, by day he works for PLC Schools, and by weekend and summer, a volunteer train engineer.

RickWEBWhen people hear ‘train engineer’ they probably are not sure what to think. With steam engines being a less-than-mainstream form of transportation, not many people are very familiar with trains.

The engineer ensures there is enough oil and water to create plenty of steam for the train to operate, but at the same time make sure there is not too much. Zorko describes running a steam engine as “a balancing act between fire, water, and oil. You don’t want to have any extremes.”

The train engineer works in the ‘engine room’ of the train, referred to as the “cab”. When asked to describe it, Zorko boiled it down to “hot, greasy and dirty.” The cab is small and contains the back of the firebox (which is exactly as it sounds, there is a door which, if opened, would show the fire).

Serving as an engineer is no small feat. “In the morning, we put oil on at least 50 different places as a number of devices require oil. We check for loose bolts, and we have to refill the sand dome. We use sand for traction, if it is slippery, we put sand on the tracks. If anything needs to be fixed, it needs to be fixed right then,” Zorko said. “We fill fuel, refill the water tank so there’s enough water for steam, which we refill three to four times a day, we will also oil those 50 spots again. Everything you do on a steam engine uses stuff up, refilling is a huge part of the job. We have to listen to the engine and ensure all runs smoothly.”

A smooth ride can be difficult to achieve. Zorko affectionately refers to the engine he most commonly works with as “a cantankerous old beast.” This particular engine is called “No. 395-104” and was built in 1890. No. 395-104 was acquired in 1974 when the zoo increased the size of the railroad in response to rising attendance.

Zorko pinpoints his interest in trains as having started when he was young and visiting his grandmother’s farm. “There was one train on the north and one west. My brother and I would watch trains go by and were always just trying to learn more about them,” Zorko said. “For me I was fascinated by the noises, the whistle, the chuff-chuff noises. I wanted to know how it worked. What still interests me is the noises, I just like them.”

According to Zorko, every day is pretty much a good day to ride the train. Things run especially well “when weather is good and we have no problems, we run the passengers, every trip goes well, and the engine runs smoothly.”

Bad days running the train include “when it is god-awful hot and the engine is not running quite well. There isn’t enough steam when you need it,” Zorko said. He adds that “the people are always fine, they are just happy to ride the train.”

What’s new at the zoo?


Those who have grown up in Omaha have been severely spoiled… in terms of the zoo they have had at their leisure. But Omaha is about to reach a new level of pampering.

The Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo is scheduled to finish the African Grasslands exhibit by memorial day, though pieces have already opened.

The exhibit features an African Lodge, elephants, an area for a lion pride, and a plain that will hold a mixture of animals, just like the real thing.

All together, this project will total around $73 million and is the largest construction project to date taken on by the zoo.

This isn’t the only record-breaking component of this exhibit: The 11,500 square foot elephant stall has been dubbed “the largest family room in North America to accomodate females and offspring,” according to the Henry Doorly Zoo website.

The elephants will also have an extensive outdoor area that includes a lake. The perfect spot to view this will be from the African Lodge.

This will include a concession stand featuring food with an ‘African Flair’, room for up to 300 guests, and will also function as a space for private functions and overnight experiences.

The best part is  that the walk to the exhibit is optional. The exhibit will have its own Skyfari stop and themed train station.

How well do you know Henry Doorly?

The full name of the ‘Butterfly exhibit’  is…
A) Scott Butterfly Plaza
B) Theresa Martin Insect and Butterfly Plaza
C) Henry Doorly Insect and Butterfly Viewing Garden
D) Berniece Grewcock Butterfly and Insect Pavilion
E) Kristine Thi Stuart Butterfly Conservation Pavilion

The ‘metal thing’ at the top of the Desert Dome is called the…
A)  Maintenance Area 10
B) Crow’s nest
C) Desert Dome pointe
D) Zookeeper’s sky lounge
E) Head House

The Shark Tunnel is ___  feet deep and continually cycles through ___ gallons of water.
A) 40 / 200,000,000
B) 17 / 900,000
C) 25 / 500,000
D) 12 / 200,000
E) 50 / 100,000,000

Engine No. 395-104 was built by…
A) Krauss in Linz, Austria
B) Union Station in Omaha, Neb.
C) Pacific Northwest in San Francisco
D) Strauss in Munich, Germany
E) Union Pacific in Lincoln, Neb.

The statue of 12 lions just inside the zoo gates was created by ____ and is titled…
A) Jackie Smith, Omaha Strong
B) Riley E. Nickerson, Lion Pride
C) Todd Schmidt, Untitled
D) Elsie Ulrich, Henry Doorly Zoo Lions
E) Bob Guelich, Doorly Pride


Answers: D, E, B, A, E

Saving the world, a movie at a time


Comic book quotes for the websiteMovies based on books get a lot of hype that is generally negative because of unrealistic expectations. Recently people have started to expect the same from comic book movies. Of course, following the source material doesn’t exactly mean it follows a certain plot. The movie in question could be a character study, in which case following the source material means doing justice to the character it’s about.

“Deadpool”, for example, is a superhero character study, it doesn’t follow a comic, it introduces Deadpool and gives him a revamped origin story. In contrast, the upcoming Marvel movie “Captain America: Civil War” is based off of the “Civil War” comic event (a comic event is a complete set of comics that tell one larger story), which means the makers are presenting an already familiar plot to moviegoers. Comic enthusiasts will be watching for how closely the moviemakers follow the events’ plot. That being said, is there such a thing as too many details? The directors of these adaptations do have a different media to work in than authors, so things that work in a comic book may not always work on screen, especially with tight budgets. “Deadpool”, for example, was limited in locations and side characters because the makers were given a budget of $53 million, much smaller than the budgets of most comic book movies.

But how close should a movie based off some original source hold true to the initial story? “A movie version of a book should stay very close to the key things, like characters and locations but fringe things can be removed or altered as they see fit.” Junior Quenton Butcher said. Of course that will always be a matter of opinion. Some people don’t mind when a movie throws out source material for whatever reason, others get upset about it. That said, the cinematic universes for comics have never been more popular.

Young women still aren’t warming up to Hillary


With the election quickly approaching there is a chance of breaking down some tall, withstanding walls with the induction of a female U.S. president. However, according to USA Today/Rock the Vote’s poll, Democratic and Independent women between the ages of 18 and 34 favor Sen. Bernie Sanders by nearly 20 percentage points. Clinton, however, won the older demographic, winning women over 65 overwhelmingly.

Many women have the intention of putting the best presidential candidate in office, rather than voting for a woman to simply elect the first woman president. Senior Nicole Wiles thinks gender shouldn’t be a deciding factor for any voter. “I think our overall goal should be to have a good president in the White House regardless of if it’s a boy or a girl or a black person or a white person or an Asian. I don’t think it should matter who they are as long as they are a good, effective president,” Wiles said.

Sophomore Grace Burgin would like to see women have a breakthrough in politics only if that woman is the best choice. “I think for a lot of women it would just be kind of a breakthrough in politics because women have never been given completely equal opportunities. At the same time, I would only want her in office if I believed she would be the best choice.”

Burgin continued to explain how a woman president would affect her life personally. “To me, because I’m very interested in politics, now I have a chance. I know for sure I can go all the way up there, and it’s not just going to be a man’s world,” Burgin said.

BURNedited.WebFeminist Gloria Steinem accused young women of only supporting Sanders because they crave attention from young men, who also tend to lean toward Sanders. (Steinem has since apologized and revoked this statement.) Many Democratic women did not receive this statement well.

Junior Hannah Meckna, a Sanders supporter, found the statement to be ridiculous. “Women are complex individuals and care about much more than a man’s opinion of her,” Meckna said.

Meckna said she supports Sanders because his ideas align with hers. “I especially appreciate his opinions on the Black Lives Matter movement, LGBTQ+ equality, other feminist issues, and his plan to dismantle Wall Street,” Meckna said.

“He may be an old white man but he has good intentions at heart, and has had the same intentions for his whole political career”

Some students express they don’t particularly trust Hillary Clinton. Senior Vida-Michelle Nixon said Clinton may have presidential qualities, but in the end it all comes down to trust.

“I think she has the most experience of any of the candidates, Republican or Democrat. Unfortunately, I still don’t trust her, and I would want a president I could trust, at least when it comes to security,” Nixon said.

Nixon also said she liked Sanders’ ideas but questioned if Sanders would get the job done. “I am torn between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. I love his policies, but I don’t know if he’ll be able to implement them. Obama took a full two terms to get his head right. I believe with Hillary’s experience she could go faster, and get stuff done,” Nixon said.

Burgin contributes that she lacks trust in Clinton. “I feel like she changes a lot of her original opinions just to get voters, not because it’s what she actually believes,” Burgin said.

Senior Alexis Wonderly believes Clinton doesn’t have the right intentions in running and therefore doesn’t side with her. “I know every presidential candidacy they’re not proud of things we know of. I question it, because she ran in 2008 and she didn’t get far because of president Obama. I think she’s just doing it because she has the money to run,” Wonderly said.

Burgin believes Bernie would change the way politics work. “I think that younger women prefer Bernie because I feel like younger people in general are ready for a change in politics, and that’s what he’s really trying to do. He’s trying to take democracy and get rid of the corruption. I feel like older women are just looking for the best candidate to run the government we have right now, which I believe is Hillary, but Bernie is going to completely change how politics are.”

Papillion producing Top 10 reputation


finalskeletonPapillion being named #2 nationally as a place to live by Money magazine might not surprise you because of the banners on the streetlights and chatter about the town, but what may surprise you is how Papillion’s roots shape its citizens. Is Papillion really a top 10 city to live in? We here in Papillion have a generally high quality of living compared to those of cities in other regions, but what really sends Papillion over the top with the critics and newswriters at Money magazine? Money magazine says that the “great schools, good jobs and wallet-friendly housing” are some of the reasons for the high ranking. When asked what he feels is significantly unique about Papillion, Nebraska or “Papio”. Senior Brian Lapke said, “Papillion has a lot of large town amenities like a movie theater and restaurants. The downtown area is aged and has history, but most of the shops have been restored to look new.”

These amenities seem to have an impact on the quality of life and happiness amongst the citizens of Papillion. Without these things to keep us busy, one may go crazy over boredom or develop “cabin fever” and the citizens of Papio seem to always be looking for new and fun entertainment.

Much like a Husker fan takes pride in the Big Red, people of Papillion have been noticed to have been taking pride in their city. History teacher Joe Cooley has lived in Papillion for all but 6 years of his life. He said, “People seem to like to say they’re from Papillion and have pride in their community because most people who are in Papillion either grow up here or have some sort of ties.”

On the topic of the article about papillion ranking top 10, Mr. Cooley said, “I think it’s great because of all the new projects they have been doing such as revitalizing downtown, Shadow Lake, Parks and Rec and even the Storm Chasers have made papillion the place to be. Papillion is worthy for sure.”

The top 10 ranking of the nation’s cities by Money magazine has drawn attention to Papillion on the national spotlight and with the notoriety comes all-eyes on the top performers. The impact of Papillion’s born-and-raised-here people on the world has been seen time and time again from professional sports to multi-million dollar cooporations. Do most of the people that Papillion produce live up to this “Papio pride”?

Freshman Alexis Bremer said, “Papillion has good people who are helpful and up-front. The hard working attitude and small town feel is definitely felt here.”

Although we are a suburban city and downtown is only a 20 minute drive, Papillion is known and seen to the masses as small town Nebraska.

Freshman Petra Ulrich, who has lived here her entire life, agreed with Bremer when she said, “Papillion’s people are better than most because of the friendliness and willingness to serve others. Its a helpful mindset that people here have.”

The difference that people in Papillion make can even be seen from people moving just a few miles down the road. Freshman Alyssa Tarczon who moved here from Ralston said, “The difference in people can even be seen just from moving across town. Papillion is very inviting and deserves to be top 10.”

Are we really that great? With every good thing comes its downside. Highlighting a few of Papillions faults, Sophomore Elisabeth Jackson said, “I don’t like how it isn’t a big city because there isn’t much to do here on an average day. Also, the small town feel can get annoying. I would like to be able to go hang out and not see everyone I know in public.”

The size of Papillion can seem to hinder the amount of adventure and excitement one can find on your typical day. The lack of an In-N-Out Burger, an amusement park or even a real professional sports team bring forth a few points to ponder about potential downfalls of Papillion. While some may sit inside and moan and groan, others make do with what they’re given. Junior Brett Brooke said, “Theres always something to do, you just have to look. The people who are always bored are probably not trying to plan anything or can’t think outside of the box.”

What is there to do in Papillion anyway? Well, every summer is a top rated traveling carnival which we know as Papillion Days. With recreational pools like Papio Bay and a newly renovated bowling alley in Papio Bowl, there’s always something to do. Grabbing some shaved ice at Sno Shack in Papio Bowl’s parking lot has become a staple for many of Papillion’s teens on a hot summer’s day. Papio Fun Park also brings the excitement of go-karts, bouncy basketball, putt-putt, and even laser tag. Although it isn’t Worlds of Fun, Papillion can be exciting and leisurely.

With the lack of overly-exciting entertainment, do people in the community and nationwide believe Papillion is worthy of being a top 10 city in the U.S.? What do you think, do you love it here or can you not wait to leave this suburban city?