Category Archives: THE BOLT

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.

Performers recite, poets flourish at library mic


Papio South’s official Open Mic Night was a success. After the first attempt at running it failed due to initial lack of interest, last Friday’s well advertised event had a humble but active crowd of participants with many performers bringing friends, filling the audience. The cosy library setting gave the event a comfortable café feel with lights dimmed, a podium and posable mic provided for versatility. There were guitarists, smooth singers, and slam poets – the evening was a small show of Titan talent.

Alumni, family, and local friends were able to be brought along. Christmas sugar cookies were available, topping the night off sweetly.

Relaxed and friendly, the Open Mic crowd agreed that they wanted it to be run again, ideally as a bi-weekly occurrence. News on this will be advertised when decisions have been made by staff.

‘Celebrity Reader’ Rikli shares time, story


Papillion La Vista Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Andrew Rikli sat down with about a dozen students Wednesday and led a reading and discussion of the picture book “Llama Llama and the Bully Goat.” Rikli’s visit was part of PL South’s Celebrity Reader’s Circle, organized by teachers Mrs. Christine Ebke and Mrs. Rebecca Hoesing.

Celebrity Reader’s Circle is a Learning Center-based enrichment program that invites influential people from the community to come to the school and read a story that can be used to engage students in conversation. Ebke said the program was “designed to facilitate real-world connections for students with special needs through the power of written and spoken word.”

The program is intended to help special-needs students further develop skills such as asking “who,” “what,” “when,” “where” and “why” questions, as well as speaking clearly and commenting on conversational responses, Ebke said.


Proposal would eliminate class rank


By definition, class rank is a measure of how a student’s academic performance compares with that of other students in his or her class. The idea of class rank was created to reward those who excelled academically.

Despite the intention of class rank, students ranging all over the grading scale have argued that it can have quite the opposite effect.

In a proposal presented at the Papillion La Vista Community Schools board meeting on Monday, members discussed replacing the current ranking system with the Laude Recognition Model used at many universities and an increasing number of high schools.

The presentation quoted perspectives from a number of area students: “The current system demotivates students, particularly if you are not ranked at the top you know there is no way to get there,” one said. Another added, “All students with the highest GPA should be recognized.”

If the new plan is adopted, individual rankings would be replaced by three honorary categories: Summa Cum Laude (“with highest honor,” GPA of 4.25 or higher on a 4.00 weighted scale), Magna Cum Laude (“with great honor,” GPA of at least 4.00 but less than 4.25) and Cum Laude (“with honor,” GPA of at least 3.75 but less than 4.00) . This would start with next year’s freshman class, according to information distributed at the school board meeting.

One student said of the proposed system, “It’s not a competition for one spot but a recognition of excellence.”

Titans fight to the finish


All sports want to feel support from their school. The volleyball team felt this when the entire student body gathered to send the varsity team off to the state competition in a surprise rally organized by volleyball parents and teammates on Nov. 12.

“It was awesome, it was very surprising,” senior Michaela McClellen said. “We were like, ‘We actually have support’ – and everyone appreciated it.”

At state, Lincoln Southwest beat Papio South in their first set, 25-23, but the Titans answered that with two back-to-back wins, 25-23 and 25-13 over the Silver Hawks. The teams then traded wins, with Southwest triumphing 25-21 and the Titans finishing it with a 15-12 victory in the final set.

“It was exciting, nerve-wracking – it was a good experience,” sophomore Mallory Voyles said.

The Titans moved on to face off against defending champion Marian on Friday. Against Marian, the Titans claimed just one victory, in the second set, 25-23. Marian won the other three, 25-20, 25-17 and 27-25, to reclaim the state title.

The Titans ended the season with an overall record of 35-7 and ranked 9th in the state.

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