Archive for Thursday, May 19, 2005

Seniors plan for future, reflect on four years as Wildcats

Plummer saw school from bird’s eye view, Trackster to begin training for Marines

May 19, 2005

Plummer saw school from bird's eye view

Elizabeth Plummer stands only 4-feet-9-inches tall, but the graduating senior still managed to get a bird's eye view of much of her high school career.

A four-year cheerleader, Plummer naturally was often the squad member stacked the tallest and tossed the highest during stunts. Her view from the top afforded her a choice view of Wildcat sports, as well as plenty of other aspects of her four years as a Wildcat.

During her first year, Plummer was terrified to try out the role of flyer, even though everyone convinced her she was built for the job.

"I was scared to death when I was a freshman," Plummer said. "I did not want to do it."

Four years and lots of coaching later, she's learned to embrace it.

"I love doing the dangerous stunts," she said. "It's exciting. It kind of gives you a rush."

Attending DHS after a brother, a sister and a long line of cousins, Plummer said people she didn't know often recognized her right off the bat.

"Everybody said 'You're a Plummer, aren't you?'" she said.

Still, Plummer said she's been able to carve her own way and follow her own interests.

"I'm a little bit more interactive in the school than my brother and sister were," she said.

Plummer became a member of National Honor Society her junior year. She was a junior varsity cheerleader her freshman year and made the varsity squad for the next three years.

She recently started a job at a party supply store in Olathe.

After graduation, Plummer plans to attend Johnson County Community College and then Emporia State University. She hopes to major in elementary education, fulfilling her lifelong career goal of being a teacher.

Signing on for cheerleading proved a huge time commitment, as the same squad cheers for Wildcat boys soccer and football in the fall and girls and boys basketball in the winter.

Plummer said cheering was an important part of her high school experience. Besides being a good opportunity to meet younger students in the school, it offered a chance to be a part of memorable school spirit-boosting events.

Plummer, who began high school a year after Mill Valley opened and attracted many of De Soto's best athletes, said Wildcat sports had taken a turn for the better during the past four years.

One of her favorite memories from high school, Plummer said, was when the football team went to the state playoffs last fall, even though they lost in the first round.

"It was awesome," Plummer said. "It was really, really cool how many people and how much school spirit we had for our football team going that far."

Plummer said DHS football coach Brad Scott made a big point out of appreciating players, fans, band members and cheerleaders alike, helping to make the success a bonding experience for the whole school.

Plummer said she was glad to have been a student at a small school. The senior said she thought the class of 2005 was pretty close but was also friendly and welcoming to newcomers who joined along the way. Plummer used fellow senior Amy Petty as an example, noting that Petty was new last year and voted winter sports queen this year.

"A lot of us have grown up together," she said. "We pretty much know everybody in our school. That's probably been one of the best things; I loved getting to know everybody."

Trackster to begin training for Marines

Even though he'll be able to shake off homework for a while, Donnie Gardner won't get much time to relax after he graduates from De Soto High School Saturday.

Gardner, a four-year trackster with a goal of becoming an officer in the Marines, will wrap up his high school years and start working on a military career within one month.

Less than a week after graduation, the senior will join the Wildcat track and field team at the state meet May 27 in Wichita.

On June 13, he'll leave De Soto for Camp Pendleton in San Diego -- his designated boot camp locale.

After 13 weeks of boot camp, Gardner will get a 10-day break. In late September, he'll begin military occupation training, which could last anywhere from 12 to 40 weeks, he said.

Gardner admitted he was a little nervous about going away so far so soon, but said he looked forward to the challenge offered by the Marines.

"I've always wanted to do it ever since I was little," Gardner said. "It sounded like fun; I guess it's an honorable thing to do."

Gardner said he was able to choose his own subject for occupation training, and he chose military intelligence.

Even though the program will take a while, Gardner said he wasn't worried about missing out on a traditional college experience -- since he's doing the reserves he plans to start on that when he gets back.

He said he would need a bachelor's degree to be eligible for the Marines' officer training program. Gardner's plan is to start school at Johnson County Community College then transfer to Baker University to complete a degree in history or political science.

Expecting boot camp would keep him in shape, Gardner said he might even try running in college. A distance runner on the DHS track team, Gardner also participated in cross country his junior and senior years.

For Gardner, his senior year brought a couple of new experiences. First, he said, Casey Johnson and other fellow cross country team members talked him into trying out for Madrigals.

Gardner landed a spot in the elite singing group and, by default, also tried out for and landed a role in "The Wizard of Oz," last fall's school musical.

"That was because we had to for Madrigals," Gardner said. "Those two go hand in hand."

Gardner was glad for the new experiences and even wondered if he shouldn't have thought about Madrigals earlier in his high school career.

"I enjoyed it," he said. "I was just afraid that I'd have to sing by myself, and luckily I didn't."

For Gardner, one of the best parts of high school was cross country practice.

Many people find it difficult to believe that logging mile upon mile afoot every day could be fun -- "They basically say you're nuts," Gardner said -- but lots of talking and joking around happens on a typical after-school run.

Gardner said one of his favorite memories was when cross-country teammate Adam Wilcox almost got hit by a car -- but he didn't, Gardner said, so that's what made it funny.

Gardner said Wilcox didn't look closely enough before crossing 83rd Street during one early morning run and was nearly grazed by an oncoming car.

"He had to jump out of the way," Gardner said. "Like, the mirror went by his armpit -- it was definitely close."

After establishing that Wilcox escaped without a scratch, the cluster of runners laughed about the incident all the way back to school, Gardner said.

Gardner said he thought the class of 2005 was pretty close, and that a handful of class clowns -- Wilcox included -- also made the group pretty goofy. Ben Moon and Alex Mercer provided plenty of entertaining moments, Gardner said, but Wilcox's close call-turned-laughing matter remained a favorite.

"That is definitely a story I'll remember for the rest of my life," Gardner said.

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