Category Archives: PERSPECTIVE

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.

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

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?

Titan Trailblazers


It’s that time of year again, and this year’s senior class is about to graduate. These chosen seniors portray all that this school has to offer with being involved in sports, fine arts, or clubs. Although these seniors are leaving and are off to bigger and better things, they will always have one thing in common: being a Titan.

Brandon DavisBRANDON DAVIS, Diesel Technology, Central Community College

“I learned a lot of leadership from being in band, and that kind of helped me find my strengths and weaknesses.”

“I want band to stay fun. Things are changing and it’s becoming more about the numbers and performance instead of having a good time and enjoying what you’re doing. I hope it keeps it’s school spirit.”

“Stay headstrong and keep your head high, but not too high.”

Lauren FedenLAUREN FEDEN, Art & Chemistry, Hastings College

“I’ve learned how to manage my time and I’ve made some amazing friends.”

“My legacy is the Titan Legacy (oh).”

 “My most memorable moment was my sophomore year for student council, we decorated our corner for homecoming as Forest Gump, and it was fantastic and I was so proud.”

Nick HettingerNICK HETTINGER, Psychology, UNL

“Everyone deserves a chance no matter where they come from. Everyone has the ability to become something great if they allow themselves to.”

“[School] instilled a strong work ethic in me.”

“I always tried to reach out to all sorts of people and I tried to talk to a variety of people and always tried to accept people the way they are and not be a different person around people.”

Miranda KuzelaMIRANDA KUZELA, Russian & computer science, UNL

“Being involved helped me to learn time management skills and made me appreciate free time more.”

“I canceled my birthday dinner with my family the night of Titanium rehearsal, so my friends surprised me and the whole group with cake and then sang happy birthday to me. I cried, but tears of happiness.”

 “I want to be remembered for my dedication to learning, especially languages, and hopefully it might help people stay motivated about their own educational goals.”

CAITLYN COTTON, Nursing, Hastings College

“There are a lot more people that care about me than I think. Everything I’ve learned from coach Cooley will forever impact my life.”

“I want my legacy to be for people to remember me as a great person to be around and to look up to.”

 “I gained mostly leadership skills and a lot of life lesson from school.”

Jordan DavisJORDAN DAVIS, Psychology, UNL

“Everyone comes from different places and you can’t judge someone from an outside point of view because everyone has a different background.”

“For DECA when they elected me was one of the best feelings of my entire life.”

 “Take in all that you can and don’t forget that life goes on after high school because I think that people can forget that.”

Triston FairchildTRISTON FAIRCHILD, Business, Colgate University

“DECA really helped me in pursuing my scholastic goals because a lot of subjects didn’t interest me but business did, and it opened me to opportunities that I can use in the future.”

“Sacrifice now, pleasure later.”

 “Has to be when we beat Millard North my junior year when we won on a last second field goal.”

Adam GadsdenADAM GADSDEN, Emergency management, UNO

“Biggest thing I’ve learned from high school is that grades don’t define a person, there’s much more to them than that.”

“Probably when Mike Smith came to speak to us was one of the most impactful things that happened in high school”

 “Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams no matter what people are telling you. You’re the one that has to die when you die so live the life you want to live.”

Nate Koeppe copyNATE KOEPPE, Engineering, UNL

“If you want to do well, all you have to do is work hard.”

“During finals I brought a sleeping bag to school and took a nap after every final.”

“I was number one.”

Jenna WinklerJENNA WINKLER, Biology, Morningside

“I learned how to multitask and prioritize.”

“Even when you don’t think you can go any further, someone will believe in you, and if they don’t, believe in yourself.”

“If you want to do it, do it. Try out for the basketball team, take a choir class, ask that boy out. As Mr. Haselhorst often says ‘fail forward.’”

Success without that ‘small loan’



Success in high school seems almost impossible to many people because we’re taught that we need a high school education, college, job experience, etc. before we can ever reach a career that will make us a living wage. Through determination and motivation, one may be able to start their journey to success early. I proved it could be done with my company, Cotton Skate Company.

Initially, we had no idea that our love for skateboarding would become a business that was actually viable. On June 16th 2015, we created and posted our first video on YouTube. To begin our journey to success we started posting videos weekly just as a way of introducing ourselves to a wider audience than just locals. Initially, we weren’t reaching our goals with views, but as we began to follow our schedule, we started getting recognized.

Tony and I posted the hyperlinks on Instagram, Facebook, and just about anywhere else we could. In a spur of the moment decision, I created a Facebook page for the company to try to reach out to more than just my friends on my personal account. To almost everyone’s surprise, it actually worked. Within the first night, we were able to reach over 100 likes from friends, family, and random people who had seen our videos on YouTube. The influx in viewers was amazing.

After watching Tai Lopez videos on YouTube for hours on end, I decided that opening a shop may be a good direction to go for my future. As a result of this I put pencil to paper and drew up some designs to put on the shirts. Within four hours I had an online shop and started to build our credibility.

For a short time, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I thought I was just building a website and starting something that’d be fun to get into. I soon realized that I had began something that I would grow to love more than anything else. Money wasn’t the driving force, but the income was substantially appreciated. Of course it wasn’t enough to get my own Lamborghini and drive it around in the Hollywood Hills, but it was a decent amount for a 15-year-old to have.

After about ten months of working every single day to stay relevant and getting in contact with hundreds of people, we finally struck oil with a small local business in Colorado called All Day Denver Decks. They agreed to partner together and start working side by side with us. We made a joint design within the first week and we began putting it on our product, which in turn caused All Day Denver Decks to put our product on their shelves.

Now, am I saying that you are guaranteed the same success? Yes and no. People who are willing to dedicate hours on end to one purpose are the kind of people who are guaranteed success. But those who pick something up, try it out and put it down two minutes later will be wasting their time.

Let me make this clear though: Do not commit to anything in a hope to just make money. You must find something that you love and that you will be willing to put hundreds of hours into. The reason being, if you don’t make money, at least you spent that time doing something you love rather than wasting your time doing something you don’t enjoy.

Running a company effectively takes a lot of time to learn. I would recommend you learn how to do so before jumping in with both feet, but you can get your feet wet through simply starting local.

This is not limited to skating or clothes, but can actually be applied to just about anything if you can successfully market yourself. Marketing is something I taught myself, but there are many opportunities available if we know where to look. At Papio South, there are multiple marketing classes that you can sign up for and learn everything you need to know. For those seniors graduating, you have an even broader spectrum of options to choose from.

What am I getting at? I’m telling you that there is never a time too early to start! With the tools we have access to, anybody can start to make some money without a small loan of a million dollars.

Aiming for more street cred


In August of this year, Straight Outta Compton was released in theatres, earning over $200 million in the worldwide box office. The movie poster has already become a meme, people switching out the word ‘Compton’ for something closer to home.

Straight OuttaWEBPapio South’s most popular club saw the slogan ‘Straight Outta Gaming Club’ attached to junior Isaiah Bourland’s presidential campaign. His posters can be seen around the school’s hallways, where they have gained a lot of attention.

“I thought the ‘Straight Outta Gaming’ posters would be a good idea, because people who have watched the movie can relate to it,” Bourland said. “A lot of people see me and say ‘hey, you’re that kid with the really awesome posters’ or ‘hey, I’ll vote for you’, I think it helped my chances of winning and hopefully it helped to spread the word about Gaming Club.”

Bourland is a new student at Papio South, and this is his first year in Gaming Club. He moved here from Grand Island Senior High last year, and he was drawn into Gaming Club because of its uniqueness. “It was cool because I’ve never heard of a club like that before, in any of the schools I’ve been to. So I thought it would be fun,” Bourland said.

At the beginning of the year he was involved with Cross Country, but Bourland chose to limit his participation in other activities to better focus on Gaming Club. “Gaming is something that brings us together, almost more than any sport or activity because in gaming there’s almost no limits to what you can do. There’s something there for everyone,” Bourland said.

Now that Bourland is president of Gaming Club, he has many plans to improve the club. “I want to get more member voices heard,” Bourland said. “I want to know what our members want out of Gaming Club, and I want to make it a more personal experience for people.”

Bourland also wants to attract more people to it. “I think at the moment there isn’t a lot of advertisements for it, so I don’t think it gets the attention that it deserves, but as long as we keep continuing with the plan for big events, then I think we can slowly get more attention to Gaming Club.”

What is Titan Spirit?


According to senior Matt Parker, school spirit at PL South feels like “a moist towel that was once hot, but now is merely lukewarm.”

School spirit can be hard to measure due to the fact that it means different things to different students. But many students feel that the atmosphere at PL South is certainly not all out.

But before we can measure it, we should have an idea of what it is. To freshman Ruth Munoz, school spirit feels “welcoming, like you are a part of something.”

Senior Xanna Galgerud believes spirit is “cheering on fellow teammates, even if you are not feeling it or had a bad day. You are not just classmates, you are their supporters, It means a lot.”

Junior Josie Doxzon ties school spirit to involvement. She defines spirit as “being proud in your school and everything you do that involves school.”

To Parker, spirit looks like “human beings decked out in a variety of clothing that is blue, black, silver or a mixture of any of the three. The clothing is often branded with a ‘T’ as well.”

How much spirit do we have? Of the definitions above, the student body is most judged by support at games. The size of the student section is often equated to the amount of spirit in the school.

Judging PL South’s spirit by this measure, sophomore Logan Lawrence said, “it can improve,” Sophomore Logan Lawrence said. “More people coming to all events would definitely help.”

Galgerud agrees, saying, she counted himself among those who could do better. “I have not been the most dedicated Titan fan this year. I understand stuff comes up, but that is not an excuse to not make it to a single game all year. Even if you don’t go, you can at least talk to an athlete, a performer and tell them ‘Good luck.’ Tweeting, telling them, just that little act of support goes a long way.”

Defining school spirit by support at games often leaves out a large chunk of the school. A lot goes on other than the big spectator sports. There are plays, musicals, show choir competitions, math competitions, student council conventions, dances, track meets and so much more.

The spectator sports may “reflect poorly” on our school, but what hurts the spirit at the school most is the attitude smaller activities have that they do not matter as much to the school as the larger activities. With so much going on at South, it is often difficult for students to keep track of what and when activities are happening.

At the beginning of this year, dance team attempted to reach out to these lesser known activities to show support. This effort was spearheaded by senior Jenna Winkler. “I got locker signs together, we got Oreos for some activities. I wanted to show support to the rest of the school’s activities, not just the ones everyone supports and the ones the cheerleaders go to,” Winkler said.

The dance team put up locker signs for several organizations until they received discouragement and stopped.

It may seem like a trivial thing, but the gesture of the locker signs was not lost upon the receivers. “It was nice to be recognized. It made me proud to run for such an encouraging school,” senior Leah Ely said.

Galgerud would like to remind the student body that, “You spend as much time at school as with your family, so school is like your family, and you should look after them as you would your family. Support activities that go on around here.”

The nature of effective team support


Cheering from the student section, generating an upbeat vibe, and screaming your head off are all common happenings at a high school sporting event. When teams are winning, dominating to be exact, it generates an intense hype throughout the school that students can feel for the whole week of a game. The winning could have the potential to create an almost unstoppable force of students and community members alike, especially in spectator sports such as football or volleyball.

It’s hard to erase the memory of the packed gyms and hyped student sections of the Papio South volleyball games during their magical national-championship seasons. Many also remember the deafening shrieks and cheers from the Black Hole during the Titans-Monarchs football game.

Does this support carry over against any other opponent? Some students will stand behind the teams through thick and thin, cheering louder than before. Those who remain true to their teams can seem to ignite a flame within the team they are supporting. Sophomore Grace Blum, who is involved in cross country and track, said, “For the most part, our school does well at supporting each other. Especially in football and basketball or when a team is having success.”

To know how to support Titan activities, one must know what quality support looks like. Senior Jordan Davis, a state DECA officer, said, “Support means making the school a better place by playing or cheering with your heart, staying involved in activities, and watching the game instead of being distracted.”

Support can look different from student to student as well. Freshman basketball player Niko Spire said, “Support is showing a good attitude even when times are tough, along with doing everything the Titan way.”

Junior basketball player Justin Steenhoek said, “Support is going to the games and having Titan-wear on. It is also caring about the game and players and going to the game to spectate and cheer.”

About success and achievement stemming from PLS, Davis said, “Many Titans have achieved many things like Raegan LeGrand with her volleyball accomplishments, the girls cross-country winning state, and Nate Kotila renovating the school elevators.”

The people who have achieved a goal that they have been working toward have been supported by others, in some way. Sports teams can also generate a high amount of support from the student body.

On the topic of supportive people, Davis said, “We have people who are more accepting and supportive such as Kyler Caverzagie. Some students also show support by encouraging players and going out of their way to show them that they matter.”

When a team feels the passion and energy from a quality crowd it might impact their play. Junior soccer player Jaden Torbensen said, “When a team gets that support they’re almost unstoppable.”

Senior basketball player Lexi DiGiacomo said, “Effective support here at Papio South is to support activities by having the leaders at the school at the game and having students wishing the players good luck. The players can also stress to their classmates how important an upcoming game is.”

The impact of full support of an activity has been seen many times at PLS. “Winning metro soccer was huge, and the community and school came to support. We ended up beating the No. 1 ranked team, Omaha South, and afterward the fans and team were celebrating on the field. It was pretty special,” Torbensen said.

Girls basketball had a similar experience this year.

“With full support, we were able to win a district championship and go to state,” DiGiacomo said.

With the school and community banding together to support a common purpose or activity, great things have been accomplished. The level of support is entirely the choice of the student body. What kind of school do you want to be a part of?