The Tooter The Student News Site of Omaha South High Magnet School Tue, 18 Feb 2020 22:11:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 South collaborates with Creighton for production of Hairspray Tue, 18 Feb 2020 18:37:25 +0000 At the end of March, South will produce the musical Hairspray in collaboration with Creighton University, featuring 16 current South students. 

Hairspray tells the story of Tracy Turnblad, a teenage girl who fights against racial segregation and hopes to win the Miss Teenage Hairspray Competition while raising awareness for other girls who do not fit the conventional norms of beauty, like herself. 

South students auditioned for roles in the musical the first week of November. 

“For the audition, students prepared 16 measures of a song and been prepared to do a dance audition,” Kevin Barrett, Drama teacher and play director, said. 

Rehearsals will begin in late January, in the evenings after school in the theater and will continue through Spring break. 

Creighton was given a grant to promote the arts and chose Omaha South the school they wanted to work with. 

“I met the director of theater a few years back, which was when the idea was brought up, and this partnership has been in the works ever since,” Barratt said. 

Creighton is providing a percentage of the funding to put on the play, which helps with items including costumes and props.  

“This collaboration is an opportunity for students to work with professionals in this certain line of work,” Barratt said. 

A collaboration like this has never been done at South before so it is a good chance for students to get more information and to start preparing for jobs like play directing, acting, or even play writing.  

Hairspray has never been mounted at South so this will also be a growth opportunity for the teachers and staff helping with producing this play. 

South students earned 16 out of 40 roles in the upcoming production, including many of the lead roles. Almost all these students are members of the Ambassadors varsity show choir. 

Emma McKeone has been cast as Tracy Turnblad, the lead character. McKeone is a senior and is remembered for her turn as Ariel in The Little Mermaid last year. 

Anthony Mondragon will be portraying Link, the teen heartthrob and Tracy’s love interest. Mondragon is also a senior, he was most recently on stage as Chip in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, but some may remember him as Scuttle from The Little Mermaid last year. 

Nyla Dawson, who last took the stage in The Little Mermaid as one of Ursula’s sidekick eels, will be Motormouth Maybelle. Maybelle is the mother of Seaweed and Little Inez and owns a record shop in Hairspray. 

Isabel Gott will be playing Penny Pingleton, Tracy’s best friend, who ends up falling for Seaweed J. Stubbs, being portrayed by Allen Griffin. Both actors were in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Gott played Olive Ostrovsky and Griffin played Leaf Coneybear. 

Rounding out the South students cast in the show, as ensemble, Nicest Kids, and other roles are Jenna Janssen, Massimo Saitta, Christina Fischer, Mayra Zamarripa, Yolanda Henderson, Zach Hunter, Brenton Thomas, Robert Ibarra, Ximena Herrera-Baro, Mariana Hernandez, and Isaiah Zendejas. 

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What to know about the new admin Tue, 18 Feb 2020 18:37:05 +0000

The new admin is Justina Tibbs. Her hometown is Omaha, Nebraska.
She attended Langston University and University of Nebraska at Omaha.
She started her education career in 2007 and was started off as a para for about a year and a half.
“I kept hearing how hard the teacher certification test is, and it scared me”, Tibbs said.
To become a certified teacher, candidates must pass coursework and other tests, like the Praxis and the Praxis II. There are many stories of teachers not passing these tests on the first try and needing to take the test at least twice before passing.
One is the teacher certification test and then there is the educational leadership test.
“Then I had to realize that I don’t test like them and that I was me! You make things up in your mind and before long you start to believe it, so I had to snap out of it fast!” Tibbs said.
Before she came to South, she spent 4 months at Norris Middle School as an Instructional Facilitator. Before that she taught science at Lothrop Elementary for 5 years, then 8th grade science at King Science Technology Magnet Center for 5 years.
Education is “in her blood” because Tibbs played school as a child.
“Growing up I played two things which was school and doctor. I wanted and still want to be one (maybe a physician’s assistant at this point in my life), but my mother didn’t know much about financial aid during that time, so she thought she had to pay for everything. Since she thought she had to pay she opted for a cheaper college that she could afford. My family is made up of educators, all the way from my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins”, Tibbs said.
After she got certified for being an administrator she had to decide where she wanted to work at as an administrator, she had come to south and shadowed Mr. Cano, the principal, last February, and she instantly wanted to be here.
She likes to be an admin because “The opportunity to still be able to work with kids, help them out of some sticky situations and continue to fill them with positivity”, Tibbs said.
She works with students with last names that start with B, D, O, T.
Some of the challenges she faces being a new admin is obviously being new to the building, and not knowing everything that goes on around in the school. “Also just knowing that kids do make mistakes, but they have to be held accountable’’, Tibbs said.
Some positives include being able to get to know students on a deeper level.
“I have to be a part of some sensitive things and being there to comfort and support them makes it worth it”, Tibbs said.

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New Year, No Turtles? Fri, 10 Jan 2020 18:39:27 +0000 In the science wing there is a large glass tank that has been empty since the start of the year, but this hasn’t always been the case.

Students may remember the tank populated with turtles as recently as last school year, and the turtles will soon return.

With the turtles’ seemingly sudden disappearance, students wonder where the turtles went and when they may come back.

According to Ben Hannah, the science department curriculum specialist and head caretaker of the turtles, they were temporarily sent to the zoo where they are being taken care of.

“The turtle tank needed to be deep cleaned and there were some structural issues with a few leaks, therefore, it was determined 2019 was the year to take care of this,” Hannah said.

Turtles require a lot of attention in order to keep them healthy, which is why the biology teachers took turns taking care of them. When the turtles come back, the science department has agreed that they will all be helping take care of them.

“We have taken care of the turtles for the past 15 years. We would change their water, add water when the tank was low due to evaporation, add plants, feed the turtles specialized turtle pellets and raw vegetation,” Hannah said.

John Tripp, a science teacher and another caretaker of the turtles, also mentioned that since this was an ideal time to make renovations to the tank since the turtles are currently at the zoo.

“Once the renovations to the tank are done, it will look different.  We will have to see what the changes will be and decide what plants to add,” Tripp said.

While their return date is yet to be determined the science department, Principal Cano and the Henry Doorly Zoo are all working hard to help bring back the turtles.

“The students enjoyed the living animals in our building. Many students like to eat breakfast and lunch while just watching the turtles swim and miss them very much. The turtles have been at South for at least 20 years.

They were part of the addition that was added way prior to my time here at South. Students and staff miss the turtles and are anxiously awaiting their return,” Hannah said.

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Young, Gifted, and Black Providing Support to African American Students Mon, 18 Nov 2019 23:44:51 +0000 Young, Gifted, and Black is a new club at South focusing on the black student community. 

The club’s focus is on making students feel safe, encouraging them to ask questions, to help them become more educated and to find greater successful. 

The club sponsors, Halley Taylor and Lend Frison organized a field trip for the club members to commemorate the lynching of Will Brown 100 years ago. 

Taylor teaches ESL and Frison teaches English. Both teachers want to foster a sense of community and pride among the black student community at South. 

On September 30th, Young, Gifted, and Black students went to the Douglas County Courthouse for a reenactment of what happened on September 28th, 1919.  

They spent the last half of the school day learning about Will Brown’s lynching and the Omaha Riot.  

Freshman Alissia Henderson, is a member of Young, Gifted, and Black who participated in the opportunity to watch the reenactment downtown.   

“I learned a lot, because I didn’t even know that there were lynchings in Omaha. We went there, and it was crazy,” Henderson said. 

Although the lynching happened in Omaha, many students don’t know about it because it isn’t taught in history classes.  

Will Brown was lynched 100 years ago because he was, as historians now believe, wrongfully accused of raping a white woman. People of color are still wrongfully killed today, which is why it was important to Henderson that she was able to visit the courthouse and learn about the lynching.  

At the courthouse, there were actors who reenacted the scenes of the lynching. 

“The reenacting made everything a lot more real because it gave him a personality. Although it didn’t show us what he was feeling, it helped put the lynching into perspective,” Henderson said. 

Although she couldn’t feel what Will Brown was feeling, Henderson was able to see the impact of the lynching on Omaha and what it meant to African American history.  

“Senator Ernie Chambers was there talking about ways to help the community and about being a part of it. The president of the Omaha chapter of the NAACP and the fire department were there,” Henderson said. We talked about Will Brown and the Omaha Riots and what we can do to make sure it doesn’t happen again.” 

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What we can do for this overcrowded school Mon, 18 Nov 2019 23:44:27 +0000 Students at South are having a hard time getting to class on time for multiple reasons in the 2019-2020 school year.
Jose Guevara is a junior that says there could be easier ways to get to class faster and more efficiently.
“Don’t hang around the hallways,” Guevara said.
Guevera explained that hanging in the halls blocks other students during passing periods. He also said that students should stay on the left and right and this would be more efficient if people weren’t walking into each other because they weren’t looking where they were going.
Guevara acknowledged that overcrowding affects students who need to stay after school, as they try to get to their after-school location in the midst of students swarming out of the building.
“If you need to stay after school, find a different route and go for it,” Guevara said.
Students should also not forget that counselors are here to help them with any issues. Students can get minute passes, which allows a student one extra minute to get to class during passing period, and counselors can find other ways to help students get to class more efficiently.
Regarding the cafeteria, Guevara said South should make the garden a little bigger so that students could eat their lunch outside on a patio area that is still on school grounds.
Cesar Nolozco, a junior, went more in depth with the patio idea, saying there should be a maximum of 31 people outside per lunch period. Access to lunch outside could even be incentivized for students, requiring them to have a certain GPA or attendance record in order to eat outside.
“There should also be like three teachers and one security guard out there, in case a fight breaks out,” Nolozco said.
He also gave a suggestion for getting students from study hall, who would like to volunteer, or other classes to help keep the garden and other areas around the school clean.
A solution to when it is raining or snowing would be to put chairs and tables inside, like the set up for Senior Symposium in the gym commons, next to the gym entrance hall.
Nolozco said that the same expectations should be followed as they are in the cafeteria, with a few additional expectations. In addition to being a nice change of scenery, Nolozco suggested that some students would benefit from eating outside mentally, because of how strenuous their daily schedules are.
With the analytics the attendance office has been doing for the past few weeks, an estimated 2,800 students show up to school daily, not including late start students.
Principal Ruben Cano said that South’s capacity is 2,600 people. Cano went on to say that the overcrowding was the reason juniors are now offered a late start and an early release option.
Juniors were given this option near the end of their sophomore year and were granted this option if they met the academic and credit requirements.
While these options helps marginally reduce the number of students in the halls in the morning and afternoon, it does not help the stairwells or lunch periods being overcrowded throughout the rest of the day.

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Intro to Ed. Teaching Future Teachers Mon, 18 Nov 2019 23:43:40 +0000 Ever think about coaching,” Sam Bojanski asked. What about being a school counselor, social worker, therapist, or parent? 

Bojanski is an adviser for Educators Rising adviser and teaches Introduction to Education class at South. 

“The majority of students enrolled in this class are those who are thinking about becoming a teacher, but that shouldn’t stop students from taking the course,Bojanski said.   

Bojanski explained that the lessons learned, and experience gained, will help students learn more about kids in general. 

The classes are only for juniors and seniors, but the Educators Rising club after school is for everybody,” Bojanski said. The club participates in many of the same activities as the class. 

The first class, Introduction to Education, is for juniors and seniors. According to Bojanski, students learn the basics of how to teach and how to be a teacher in this class. 

During the second year of the education course as seniors, students have the chance to choose a school to teach at during the afternoon. In order to do this, seniors must have taken the introductory class their junior year. 

The internship allows students to go to whatever school, grade level, or subject they choose and work with students in the afternoon,Bojanski said.  

Bojanski explained that the internship is a good way for students to know if they love the teaching profession or hate it. 

The purpose of the course is to recruit tomorrow’s teachers in Omaha, Bojanski said.  

The purpose of the program is to help change students’ view of education as a potential profession and to train future teachers that look like students.  

The education program at South is the largest school program in the state of Nebraska. It Began nine years ago with only four students,” Bojanski said. “The classes do not fit in a traditional classroom anymore.  

The classes are now taught in the team rooms because of how many students are enrolled in the program. 

Programs like Educators Rising are arguably important for the future of education as there has been a 32 percent decline in students seeking education degrees across America over the past decade, according to Education Week. 

Teaching is hard. Students should have an idea of what they’re getting into, Bojanski said  

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Espinosa awarded by The Assistance League of Omaha Mon, 18 Nov 2019 18:41:51 +0000 In addition to her work at Omaha South High Magnet, Mary Espinosa has received an award for her work with the Assistance League of Omaha. 

Espinosa is the coordinator for both the Dual Language and the Advanced Placement programs at South, where she has been working for the past six years.  

Espinosa was awarded the Caring Hands Award by the Assistance League of Omaha because of her work with Operation School Bell. 

The Caring Hands Award is awarded to a family member of an Assistance League of Omaha volunteer who has helped the organization with their various programs. 

During Espinosa’s first year at South, Operation School Bell needed translators. She was given the responsibility of finding bilingual students that could volunteer.  

Operation School Bell is a program that provides families in need of winter clothes for their students.   

Across two weeks every October, the program sends students to JCPenney at Westroads Mall. They interpret for families with financial needs while helping them shop for winter clothes.  

The Assistance League of Omaha has a Christmas caravan during which attendees have dinner and participate in an auction to fundraise for different programs. The award ceremony was also held during this time. 

As AP coordinator, Espinosa has many responsibilities. Part of her job is to keep track of who is going to take AP exams and to make sure there is an AP exam for the student when they show up to take the test.  

“AP is connected with a group called the college board, they write the exams and make the scheduling. They are who we pay for the exams, they are also the ones who connect with the universities,” Espinosa said. “My job is to connect students and teachers with the college board, to fill the gaps.” 

Teachers also have a role to play. They must meet certain requirements in order to teach AP courses.  

“If teachers want to teach an AP course, they have to take a course in order to meet the expectations of the College Board while also meeting the expectations of Omaha Public Schools. The teachers are providing information and content to help students take the test,” Espinosa said.  

As Dual Language coordinator Espinosa oversees that incoming freshman students sign up for the correct classes.  

“My work with DL is more specifically talking to students and making sure that they’re in the correct classes, promoting DL,” Espinosa said. “Starting next week, I will be in the DL middle schools talking to each of the classes and letting them know what DL is like in high school.”   

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Young nebraskans take political action Mon, 18 Nov 2019 18:23:36 +0000 Young Nebraskans in Action, also known as YNA, has partnered with the non-profit organization, The Heartlands Workers center.

YNA took part in a political convention hosted by The Heartlands Worker Center to promote and inform people about the census, how they are going to get people to vote in the upcoming elections and immigration laws. 

Another main reason for the convention was that the HWC was celebrating their 10-year anniversary and used this opportunity to display what they have accomplished over the past decade. 

The Heartlands Worker Centers in Sarpy county, South Omaha, West Omaha, and North Omaha all gathered to inform people and to. reveal their plans for overcoming obstacles in the future. They also made a call to action to people who didn’t vote. 

The Heartlands Worker Center has several political goals they hope to achieve including higher voter turnout during political elections, helping people become better informed about politics and for individuals to start acting on the change they want to see.  

Another goal that they wanted to achieve is to have citizens become more involved in the community and teach them ways to help. 

YNA is part of the core team in South Omaha, so they work with the HWC to help reach their goals.  

“Since not many young people are involved in politics, they made it a priority to have us, the younger generation, there so we can also be involved and give our input,” Ericka Silva, a member of YNA, said.  

Aixa Flores is a senior who joined YNA this year and has already become an active participant in the program. She gave a presentation at the convention. 

“My speech talked about the three Calls to Action that YNA has for the upcoming year: Immigration, the census for 2020, and getting people out to vote. I used my personal experiences in my speech to back up why these three goals are so important for young people,” Flores said. 

YNA wanted to inform the people the people at the convention that there are many young people that care deeply about the ongoing situations in the communities.  

“One of our main focuses was to teach attendees how to be properly informed and how to remove the stigma about young people in politics,” Flores said. 


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Seasonal Affective Disorder Makes Staff Sad Fri, 15 Nov 2019 20:30:32 +0000 Seasonal Affective Disorder is very common during the winter. The lack of sun may cause people to isolate themselves from their friends and activities they enjoy doing.  

SAD is often accompanied by depression, anxiety and even bipolar disorder.  

Many people suffer from SAD. Spanish and ESL teacher, Laura Chambers admits that she has less energy during the winter months.  

“I have noticed that some students become more depressed in the winter. I know the patterns in my body, and I can observe those same patterns in students at school,” Chambers said.  

But it’s not only students who deal with SAD, staff members also suffer from this disorder. 

Now that I look back at the pattern of SAD in my life, I see that it really started when I was 16. There was a pattern of me getting really tired starting in October-November and then bottoming out in March,” Chambers said.  

While Chambers can pinpoint that these feelings began around the time she was 16, she didn’t recognize that it was a pattern until approximately six years ago.  

“It was at that point that I asked for help. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming knowing that my body will go through this cycle every year, but the better that I am at self-care, the better I weather the SAD storm.” 

There are many symptoms to SAD. They include feeling depressed most days or maybe even every day, low energy, trouble sleeping, change in appetite among other symptoms.  

Honors U.S. History and AP World History teacher, Jennifer Sudduth deals with anxiety and depression.  

“I realized it several years ago. I had noticed that my “normal” level of depression was getting worse in the fall months,” Sudduth said.  

Many people who have SAD use a light box before they head out to work or school to help with the symptoms.  

“I use a light box starting in October. I use it in the morning, and it replicates the sun light,” Sudduth said.  

There are many other ways to help reduce SAD symptoms, like taking vitamin D and K supplements, keeping a balanced diet, and exercising.  

It can be really hard to do the last two, especially when I am really struggling with exhaustion, but if I just press through and make it happen, I feel better,” Chambers said.  

It also helps having a support system whether that is made of friends, family or a combination of both.  

“I am honest with my family and friends about what is going on. I have a friend at school who also struggles with this and we try to encourage each other through the darkest part of the year. This year we decided to send each other a funny or sarcastic GIPHY every day,” Chambers said.  

Chambers and Sudduth part of each other’s support system including Ellen Augustine.  

“Find a support system. Make sure you get enough sleep, stay active, drink water, and eat healthy. You have to make sure to take care of yourself physically and mentally,” Sudduth said.  

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Night of frights and delights at south Mon, 04 Nov 2019 18:09:14 +0000

Night on L street gave the South Omaha community members a lively and safe environment to trick-or-treat with students and clubs at Omaha South High Magnet.  

Over 1000 participants took part in a spooky night filled with games, candy, and laughs. There were over 200 volunteers organized by the South High Educators Rising club. This was the second year that South has held this event, hundreds of families from 21 different elementary and middle schools were in attendance. 

Volunteers from the Art club, NCPA Ambassadors, Journalism department, Student Council, South High Luvabulls, Latino Leaders, Dual Language Club and even members of the South High Alumni Association helped make this night very memorable.  

Art club helped paint faces of young trick-or-treaters, NCPA ambassadors helped recruit students for their program and our Luvabulls ran the haunted house. Many other clubs and groups ran games and fun activities for the community to enjoy. 

The event was overall very successful and hope to make next year’s event even more spooktacular. 

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