Posts tagged with De Soto High School

Student Council to sponsor annual blood drive

The De Soto High School Student Council will sponsor its fifth annual blood drive for the Community Blood Center from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 26, in the little gym at the school.

Organizing and participating in the blood drive is part of the council's community service outreach, according to council sponsor Nancy Perry.

"This even has become really important to the Student Council and it really helps raise awareness about the need for blood donors," Perry said.

Last year's event collected 55 units, this year's goal is 70.

"It would be great if we met that goal, but really we'll be happy if we even get one more than we did last year," Perry said.

Perry hopes more of the community will donate to the drive this year to help reach that goal. In addition to adults, students over the age of 17 with parental permission and weighing at least 115 pounds may donate. Appointments to donate may be made in the DHS office or online at savealife.org, and walk-ins are welcome as well.

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Social Studies night engages community, empowers students

Everywhere you turned at De Soto High School Wednesday night you were face-to-face with American history, judicial rulings and proposed aid to global regions. It was the annual Social Studies Night at DHS, in which students in Honors World History, U.S. History and Government presented the projects they've been working on for weeks to their family, friends and interested community members.

"I'm a firm believer that you gain a deeper understanding of a subject when you have to teach it back to someone else," said Mike Murphy, the Government teacher. "By presenting their projects to parents and other teachers and members of the community, these kids are getting to know their material even better."

The Seniors

Seniors in Murphy's Government class each selected a controversial issue with multiple sides, chosen topics ranged from the death penalty to legalization of marijuana, and began researching them in their English classes. Once the initial research was completed, they worked in Murphy's class to find court cases, some federal and some state, to fill in the various sides of the issues.

Adrian Clarkson studied the differences and the history of censorship in Iran and the United States.

"I really wanted to look into censorship in Iran and how strict it is, everything is censored there," she said. "I just find it fascinating, especially because Iran is a nuclear threat to (the U.S) and I think we really should understand their culture and their country as best we can."

The Juniors

"What America Means to Me" was the question juniors in U.S. History were asked to answer in their projects. Most students worked in groups based on their interests but a few worked solo. With such an interpretive question, the answers ranged from the traditional, such as "Military" and "Transportation", to the more unconventional like "Obesity" and "Conformity."

"These projects show the kids' potential and their thought processes," said instructor Matt Rice. "No matter what theme they use to answer the question, they've thought about it and worked hard to present it."

Drew Buffkin, Cameron Pfannenstiel and Taylor Stolarski decided that, to them, American means success.

"Everyone wants success," Pfannenstiel said.

"People originally came to this country for success and they're still coming here to become successful," Buffkin said.

The three researched three examples of what they saw to be America's big successes: the Revolutionary War, Andrew Carnegie and the moon landing.

"The Revolution was our first success as a country, that's what started it all," Stolarski said. "And Carnegie was one of the most successful men in our nation's history, not only did he work hard and become rich but he shared his money with universities and museums to help give others the tools to become successful."

Victoria Ciaravola, Brandy Heater and Tiffany Adkins had a more unconventional view of America, to them it means "Conformity."

"It seems like everyone, especially girls like us, is under this incredible pressure to be perfect and be like everyone else," Heater said.

The girls researched fashion and traditional women's roles from the 1950s to today.

"I was kind of surprised to find that there have always been harsh standards set by society for how women and girls should look and act," Ciaravola said. "Those standards have been different in every decade but they're always expected."

The Freshmen

Freshmen work in groups to investigate social issues in various global regions and look for ways to solve or alleviate the problems. Each group finds a charity or some organization working on the social issue they've researched and develop an action plan to get involved with the work.

"This project came from a class discussion many years ago about whether or not one person can really make a difference in the world," said instructor Chris McAfee. "We (the teachers) wanted the kids to realize that yes, one person can make a difference and that person could be them."

One motivated group of freshmen, concerned with poverty and poor health in Southeast Asia, developed a plan to work with an area restaurant to raise money for the Westside Family Church fund. The students: Maddy Cater; Kristin Karliskint; Casey Jones; Carlie Stenzel and Teresa Avila, found their way to make a difference.

The Community

Members of the community do more than walk through rows of projects and read posters, they are encouraged to engage with the students and ask questions about their projects and how they got there. Both the students and the adults walk away with something more than they came with.

"I've definitely learned a lot from these projects," said community member Amy Bauer. "It was really interesting to see what America meant to these students, our future, and to learn why."

"It's obvious these kids put a lot of work into these projects and I'm impressed with the thought behind them," said community member Bill Thompson. "It takes a lot of confidence to speak to strangers like this and it's impressive to see juniors and seniors in high school doing so well."

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Daily Poll

Phase I of the construction at DHS created new space for the art department and for sculpting and ceramics classes in particular. DHS art teacher Tim Mispagel and the De Soto Arts Council are considering options for getting the community involved in art and in using the building they voted and paid for with the bond issue. Vote in our poll and tell us more in the comments.

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Always forward: DHS art teacher creates sculpture for alma mater

De Soto High School art teacher Tim Mispagel was commissioned by Benedictine College, his alma mater, to create a sculpture of the saint and the school mascot, a raven. "I wanted to portray a strong figure," Mispagel said. "St. Benedict was a very centered person and I wanted to show that in my work, I wanted to avoid any signs of frailty."

De Soto High School art teacher Tim Mispagel was commissioned by Benedictine College, his alma mater, to create a sculpture of the saint and the school mascot, a raven. "I wanted to portray a strong figure," Mispagel said. "St. Benedict was a very centered person and I wanted to show that in my work, I wanted to avoid any signs of frailty."

For the past several months, Tim Mispagel has been a busy man. In addition to his duties as a full-time art teacher at De Soto High School and his obligations as a husband and father to three, he has been creating an eight-foot tall, bronze sculpture for Benedictine College, his alma mater.

Mispagel, who graduated from Benedictine in 1993 and has been teaching at DHS for the past 10 years, unveiled the finished sculpture at a special ceremony on the school's campus in Atchison on March 21.

"This sculpture is the biggest thing I've done in my art career," Mispagel said. "I'm very honored that I was able to give back to my alma mater and excited to be a part of its growth."

Mispagel began the project by making a small version in clay after doing extensive research on what kind of man St. Benedict was and what his life would have been like. Because there are no accurate depictions of the saint, Mispagel read biographies and descriptions of him. He also visited St. Benedict's Abbey to observe the monks there and see what Benedict's habit looked like.

"In my research I learned that St. Benedict was a very centered person, a very strong person," Mispagel said. "I wanted to portray a strong figure...I wanted to avoid any signs of frailty."

Once the small version of the sculpture was completed, Mispagel had the model scanned, enlarged and carved into plastic foam by a computer numerical control machine. Once the foam model was completed, he made slight alterations and created the final mold, which was shipped in pieces to the Ad Astra Art Bronze, Inc. foundry in Lawrence. The final mold was 22 pieces in all.

"A sculpture this size is all about putting the pieces together to make something great," Mispagel said. "That's how sculpture is like life and that's one of the things I love about it."

Mispagel's love for his art is evident through the passion in his voice as he speaks about this project as a legacy for his children and an inspiration for his students.

"It was exhausting teaching full-time and being a full-time dad and making this sculpture but you get through because it's a passion," he said. "I shared the entire process with my students and I hope they take more pride in their own work now that they've seen me take pride in mine."

Mispagel also involved his children, ages thirteen, six and three, in the process.

"I just built a studio onto my home so I can have my kids there working with me," he said. "I could have leased studio space somewhere else but I didn't want to be away from my family like that."

And while Mispagel is quick to say it will be up to his children where or how they choose to advance their education, he admits to liking the idea of them going to BC like their dad.

"I like the idea of my kids going to Benedictine and saying to their friends, 'my dad made that'," he said.

Mispagel, who worked for Hallmark before teaching and worked in illustration, sculpture provides a connection that couldn't be made on paper or canvas.

"The special thing about sculpture is that it's interactive. People can walk around a sculpture and touch it, it's meant to be touched," Mispagel said. "I really tried to play with the texture of the piece to encourage viewers to reach out and touch."

More photos of Mispagel's sculpture can be viewed here.

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Student artists receive scholarships

The Arts Council of Johnson County awarded four Shawnee-area students with 2011 Shooting Stars scholarships at its annual Shooting Stars Gala on March 27 at Johnson County Community College.

De Soto recipients were Tyler Dutton and Katie McKeirnan, both students at De Soto High School.

Work from these and other scholarship recipients will be displayed at JCCC’s Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art through the end of April.

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School board selects building plan, moves forward with bid process

The architectural drawing of Option A for Phase II of DHS construction shows the new construction in green, existing areas that will receive major renovations in yellow and exisiting areas that will receive minor renovations in blue. The red lines outline the area selected to be a Federal Emergency Management Agency shelter, pending grant allocation.

The architectural drawing of Option A for Phase II of DHS construction shows the new construction in green, existing areas that will receive major renovations in yellow and exisiting areas that will receive minor renovations in blue. The red lines outline the area selected to be a Federal Emergency Management Agency shelter, pending grant allocation.

After months of debate and multiple propositions, the De Soto school board has approved a design for bid for Phase II of the De Soto High School construction project.

The design, Option A, includes a competition gymnasium, weight-training room and multi-use room, among other new spaces. In all, it will provide 44,000 square feet of new space. A Federal Emergency Management Agency-approved emergency shelter will also be built in, a feature FEMA will likely reimburse the district through grants.

According to the board’s motion, made during Monday’s special meeting, bids are not to exceed $9.3 million. The district saved $9.7 million on Phase I of the DHS construction, the Mill Valley High School expansion project and the construction of Belmont Elementary. The original bond issue, approved by voters in 2008, allowed for $75 million in bonds to be issued.

While the motion to select Option A and move forward with the bidding process was made within the first 30 minutes of the special meeting, it was not agreed upon easily.

The board voted 4-3 for the plan. Board president Tim Blankenship, vice president Tammy Thomas and member Randy Johnson all opposed the plan. Blankenship cited other capital outlay needs within the district that could be taken care of with some of the leftover $9.7 million if a smaller plan than Option A were approved.

“I think of the other needs in the district and look at this plan and the cost and Option B (which would have built less new square-footage) seems like a more efficient use of the money,” he said.

Board members favoring Option A said they taking into consideration community members’ opinions.

“During my time on this board I’ve always tried to listen to the community and to their wishes,”” said Don Clark, a board member who also sat on the design committee. “In the five months that these discussions (about Phase II) have been going on, I have yet to hear a negative response from the community, including the retirees I work with on a regular basis.”

In the end, more of the board agreed with Clark and supported the plan, much to the relief of parents, administrators and students in the audience.

“I’m happy with the board’s decision,” said De Soto High School principal Dave Morford. “I’m pleased (with Option A), though I knew whichever plan they went with would be positive.”

Many district parents are also pleased with the board’s decision, but perhaps even more excited is one district student.

“Moving forward with Option A is a great thing for DHS, we really need it,” said junior Lauren Darter. “Even if I don’t get to use the new building as a student, my younger sister will and having experienced a crowded school I’m happy to know she won’t.”

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DHS Communication Arts teacher named Teacher of the Year for district

De Soto High School Communications Arts teacher Donna Rhodes accepts her certificate for Teacher of the Year from Superintendent-elect Doug Sumner (left) and Principal Dave Morford. Photo courtesy of USD 232.

De Soto High School Communications Arts teacher Donna Rhodes accepts her certificate for Teacher of the Year from Superintendent-elect Doug Sumner (left) and Principal Dave Morford. Photo courtesy of USD 232.

Donna Rhodes, a Communication Arts teacher for sophomores at De Soto High School, is sure she'll retire someday but that's not a day she thinks about.

"I can't imagine not teaching or thinking about teaching or planning my lessons," Rhodes said. "Teaching is part of who I am."

This passion for her work is evident to her students and her fellow teachers, which is why she is the 2011 De Soto school district's Teacher of the Year at the secondary level.

"I'm very honored by this award," Rhodes said. "There are so many great teachers in this district, I'm not really sure I rank this high among them."

Rhodes was selected from a group of 94 candidates by a committee comprised of district teachers, Board of Education members and representatives from the community. Teachers are nominated for the award by fellow staff, students or parents.

Surprised or not, this wasn't the first time Rhodes has been recognized for her dedication to education. Last year she was selected Teacher of the Year for DHS.

For Rhodes, there is more to her job than teaching.

"I have a real affinity for teenagers. They really just need someone to listen to them and encourage them," Rhodes said. "As a teacher there's only so much I can do but I see these kids and some of the scary situations they're in and I just try to help them find their strength to make it through."

In addition to teaching Communication Arts, Rhodes is the assistant coach of the DHS Scholar's Bowl team. She has been teaching in De Soto for the past five years and has 17 years teaching experience total.

"I've been very impressed with DHS and this district during my five years here," she said. "I'm so glad I landed here."

A landing that almost didn't happen. When Rhodes' husband accepted a job in the area five years ago, she nearly signed a teaching contract with a different district in the area. DHS Principal Dave Morford called Rhodes for an interview the night before she was to sign her other contract.

"I came [to DHS] for the interview and it just felt right."

Rhodes will represent USD 232 in the 2012 Kansas Teacher of the Year competition.

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District honors top teachers

The De Soto school district named its teachers of the year last week.

Allison Nelson, a reading specialist at Clear Creek Elementary School, and Donna Rhodes, communication arts teacher at De Soto High School, are the district’s representatives in this year’s Kansas Teacher of the Year program.

Each year, De Soto selects one elementary and one secondary teacher to be considered in the 2012 Kansas Teacher of the Year competition.

De Soto’s most recent Kansas Teacher of the Year winners are Jeri Powers in 2008 and Keil Hileman in 2004. The district has had 11 state finalists and six semifinalists in the program since 2000.

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Dance team and drumline come together for one-of-a-kind performance

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Dance team and drumline come together for one-of-a-kind performance by Laura Herring

The De Soto High School Diamonds dance team and Drumline came together to create a unique performance that displayed the talents of all involved. Students wrote and choreographed the original piece.

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Curtain opens on DHS production of "Pillow Talk" tonight

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De Soto High School preparing for spring play, 'Pillow Talk' by Laura Herring

From party lines to suits of armor, De Soto High School's spring play, "Pillow Talk", will keep the audience laughing. Based on the movie of the same title, the show gives a glimpse into the "technical difficulties" of the 1950s through two neighbors with a shared telephone line.

"The kids have had a lot of fun with it, it's got a lot of great one-liners," said director and theater teacher Erin Purifoy. "I think they've learned a lot about what like was like in the 1950s and how much things have changed."

For a generation of kids coming of age in the time of cellular phones, the concept of a shared phone line is almost inconceivable.

"It was kind of difficult for them to grasp the idea of a party line, I think," Purifoy said. "We talked about what it would be like if every time they picked up their cell phone someone else was already talking and went from there."

Foreign concept or not, the cast pulls off the show with a conviction that shows their hard-work and camaraderie off-stage.

"It's a lot of hard work, getting the blocking and the lines and, in my case, the Texas accent just right," said junior and male lead Owen Moore. "But it's all worth it because the show's a lot of fun and we all get along really well. We're like a little family."

"Pillow Talk" premiers tonight at DHS at 7 p.m., with performances at the same time on Friday and Saturday, March 4-5. Tickets are five dollars for adults and four dollars for students.

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