Black Hills High School prepares for upcoming Prom

Calli Puetz, a member of Prom Court, encourages her classmates to buy Prom tickets.

Black Hills High School is holding this year’s Prom on Saturday, May 14th at the Tacoma Convention Center from 8:00 pm to approximately 10:30 pm. Prom is for mainly juniors and seniors, but freshmen and sophomores can go if they are asked by an upperclassman. The tickets can be purchased in the BHHS ASB Office and are 25 dollars for singles and 50 dollars for couples. Students with a 4.0 GPA Gold Card receive a free ticket.

The theme for this dance is “Red Carpet Oscars”, which was chosen by the leadership class’s Dance Committee, headed by ASB Social Chair, Jancin Krohn. Krohn picked the theme because “any dresses go with that theme, it's a really classy type of theme, and everyone will have fun dressing up for it.” Ally Fourtner, a current junior, will be next year’s Social Chair and also helped pick this year’s Prom theme. She believes the theme is “elegant and goes with Prom because it’s more formal” than other dances.

The venue, the Tacoma Convention Center, is a “giant glass building”, according to Krohn. “I think with the lights off, the DJ, and the disco balls it will look pretty cool.” Fourtner commented on how the committee books the venue “a year in advance” and that she is currently working on that lengthy process for next year’s Prom.

Dale Reeves, the leadership teacher and activities coordinator, estimates “between 250 and 300 people” at this year’s event. Regarding dress code and dance code, Reeves reminded students that “outside of Bonnie's office, you’ll see a dress code and dance code depiction”. Additionally, he stated, “The chaperones will primarily come from all three administrators, and I will spend more time at the door making sure people are dress code appropriate and following alcohol and drug protocol.”

The crowning of Prom King and Queen will occur at the dance itself at approximately 10 pm. ASB Secretary Kelcie River, the head of Coronation Committee, will crown this year’s winners along with Krohn. The court members are Edward Afeiche, Megan Tubach, Jewell Day, Calli Puetz, Jason Underhill, Jessica Rodgers, Gio Iosla, and Bailey Weatherby. All members on Court this year are all very good friends, and Day commented on that. “We’re really lucky that we had that happen. It’s really cool that I get to go at that way, you know, senior year.”

The Prom Court members are very happy their classmates nominated them, said Day. “It’s nice to be nominated. It makes you feel good. I was happy when I found out.” Puetz, another member on Court, reiterated this, saying “I feel very honored that people voted for me and I get to be on it.” Puetz also joked, “I don’t even need to be Prom Queen, I just like the tiara.”

Krohn encouraged students to buy tickets, because “it’s the seniors’ last dance ever and we really want to make the most of it.” Regarding this, Puetz reminded her classmates that it’s the “last stretch for most of the seniors, so don’t make any stupid decisions because I want you all to graduate.” Krohn reflected on her their upcoming graduation saying Prom will be “the last Hoorah.”

Sammi Payne, Reporter

Life beyond Black Hills

Central Washington University main hall. (courtesy of

Many students wonder what happens to their fellow seniors after they graduate from Black Hills high school. Many move far from here or stay closer than you think and many move to pursue our dreams. A few graduates shared their plans.

After seniors graduate, students wonder where they are headed to continue their education. Clayton Lundstrom is planning on attending Central Washington University then transferring to Western Washington University. Kelien Williams is attending South Puget Sound Community College, then later on transferring over to Central Washington University. Staying close to home, Kylie Bell is going to be a student at the Art Institute of Seattle.

In addition to choice of school, another big decision is what students are going to be focusing on for their career. After completing the environmental sciences program, Lundstrom wants to become a Marine Biologist and work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. Williams wants to graduate with a business administration degree and use his skills to open up his own music store. “I want to be able to capture the beauty of the world that the eye does not meet,” Kylie Bell stated when discussing her future. Bell wants to become a professional photographer.

Along with an ideal school, students want to be able to be comfortable and like to have a choice where to live. Bell shared, “My step-sister lives close to the institute and I am going to be living with her, that way I can be comfortable and close with family.” Williams is going to be staying in a dorm in Central. Another fellow senior, Hailey McReynolds, shared, “I am going to live in a dorm on campus at Eastern Washington University. Actually I already have my roommate picked out.”

There are a wide variety of dreams and career paths to follow. With many possibilities out there in the world, students from Black Hills are going to make a difference and achieve goals in their future.

Hailey McReynolds, Reporter

Black Hills participates in the Reach Higher Initiative

Mrs. Jones, Sammi Payne, and Mrs. Gould taking a photo in front of the College Signing Day photobooth. (Photo courtesy BHHS ASB Twitter)

Recently, BHHS participated in Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative by hosting its very own College Signing Day.

Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative seeks to support students planning to attend and graduate from college as well as celebrate students and their commitment to complete their education beyond high school with College Signing Days. As Michelle Obama states, the events of College Signing Days, “offer a unique opportunity to celebrate graduating seniors, showcase our student leaders, and inspire more young people to take the first steps on their journey to higher education.”

The Reach Higher Initiative, started in 2014, was created in order to achieve President Obama’s North Star goal. The North Star goal establishes the promise that the U.S. will once again lead the world in the highest proportion of college graduates. It seeks to do so by focusing on, “college affordability, exposing students to college, academic and summer planning, and supporting school counselors.”

In preparation for the BHHS College Signing Day, the Assembly Committee worked hard to create an enjoyable experience for students planning to further their education. As Sammi Payne states, the Committee was tasked with, “creating a photobooth, planning incentives, and publicizing the event.”

The College Signing Day allowed students to take pictures with their college’s associated colors and emblems, as well as sign a banner that will be displayed at the Evening of Excellence. Sammi Payne, stated that it ended up being, “a bigger event than I thought it would be.”

The College Signing Day was a generally enjoyable experience and a large amount of BHHS students who eager to attend college, as well as staff who graduated from college were able to show their pride for colleges, and as the Obamas hoped, inspire others to further their education. Mrs. Jones, one of the lead organizers of the event, states that she, “Hopes to make it a yearly event.”

Tristan Shank, Reporter

WE Day

On Wednesday, April 20th 2016, Black Hills students went up to Seattle for WE day. According to, WE day is a festival type awareness day for, “WE schools our educational program , is a model for youth empowerment that challenges young people to act with intention, and lead with compassion and the conviction that together we can transform lives locally and globally.”

The celebration was sponsored by the Seattle Seahawks, Allstate, and Microsoft. Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll, and Grammy award winner Ciara were a few of many performers, athletes, and public speakers appearing at WE day.

I asked Black Hills senior Kelcie River what WE day meant to her. “Uh, changing a me mindset to a WE mindset.” Kelcie said the best public speaker was George Takei, her favorite Star Trek character. Along with public speakers and hype performances, there were also, “a lot of company advertisements,” said Kelcie. I asked Kelcie if she has anything to say to students who didn’t participate on WE day. “If you go to their [WE schools program] to their website [] they have like projects that you sign up for.”

Christian Williams, Black Hills Junior also attended WE day, so I asked him what WE day did for him. “It made me realize that it’s not all about me and that there’s lots of other people with bigger problems than me, and that I should spend my time helping others, rather than myself.”

A poll showed that after attending WE day, 91% of students felt they needed to transform insipration into action, 80% of WE schools alumni volunteer more than 150 hours per year, 83% continued to give to charity, and 79% voted in the last election. It is clear that WE day and WE schools is inspiring students to truly reach out locally and globally in any way they can.

Alex Rebara, Reporter

BHHS Horticulture hosts plant sale for the last time

From May 2nd through May 6th, the Black Hills High School Horticulture program is hosting a plant sale, held in the greenhouse on the North side of campus. It will be open each day from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM and reopen again from 2:00 PM to 5:30 PM.

Roger Bessey, the Horticulture instructor, shared with pride that all of the plants are “student grown” and that they “have done a great job growing them.” He believes the plants are very high quality and attributes that to the students.

This year, the plant sale will feature items such as “beautiful hanging baskets, ornamental perennials, annual flowers, vegetables, tomatoes, basil, and herbs.” Bessey said that from growing these plants, the students have gained “the actual experience growing plants from seeds, from plugs, from vegetative cuttings” and that they now “understand a lot about what goes on in a nursery.”

The plants will be discounted up to half of what people would pay anywhere else. Bessey explained that “the funds this year are going to be put into the ASB and then distributed to other groups and organizations like Key Club, Band, Wrestling, etc.” The Horticulture instructor, who is retiring at the end of the school year, believes the Plant Sale is very beneficial for the school. As he said, “they’re getting lots and lots of value for their money and supporting the school to save time. So it’s a win-win situation.”

Students from the Horticulture class have a lot of work and time invested in this plant sale. Kennedi Greenfield, a freshman in the class commented on how she has worked very hard to make the hanging baskets “pretty and vibrant for the springtime.” She offered them up as a great Mother’s Day present, saying to “give your Mom a flower basket; she’d love it. They’re really big, they last a long time, and they’re easy to water.” Cory Smith, another student, highly recommends people buy the hanging baskets. He said that the sale features “a bunch of different varieties made by a bunch of different students.” Smith also reiterated what Bessey had earlier said: “All the work is done by students.”

Erica Baxter, another student in the Horticulture program, is really looking forward to the upcoming plant sale. Baxter’s favorite part about the class is working with the plants and watching “them grow over the year to see how far they’ve come.” She explained how the plant sale is an opportunity for her and her classmates to showcase their work, and that’s why she is “very excited about it.”

Bessey encouraged “all parents, staff, and students here at Black Hills High School to participate” in the plant sale. This will be the last plant sale at this school, due to Bessey’s retirement. Most importantly, according to Baxter, the products are “quality plants for good price. You couldn’t get a better price elsewhere.”

Sammi Payne, Reporter

Class of 2016 looks forward to making contributions to the community

Chase Varney, working during his internship at the Tumwater Police Department

As the end of the school year approaches, many seniors only have one thing on their minds- life after high school. Since completing exit interviews midway through March, all that seems left is to wait for graduation. Perhaps more important than graduation itself, however, are the different ways in which the class of 2016 plans to make an impact on the world.

For example, Chase Varney has already been working towards his post high school career as a police officer. He’s been able to do this by finding unique ways to gain experiences in his field while still being in high school. Varney has been heavily involved in Explorers since his sophomore year, a program in which its members train in “anything from high risk traffic stops to domestic violence scenes.” He also Interns at the Tumwater police department, and stated “I actually got my intern job at the police department through the high school. I talked to Mrs.Jones about wanting to get a part time job and she set me up at city hall. City Hall found out that I want to become a police officer, and they got me the job through the police department”

Despite the Internship job being only eight hours a week, Varney expressed how grateful he was to begin learning skills that pertain towards his future career. Some of these tasks include filing cases, handling concealed pistols licenses, cleaning/filling gas tanks for the cop cars, helping officers dispose of evidence, training with police dogs, and going on ride-alongs. To elaborate on what a ride-along is, Varney explained that “pretty much, you shadow the police officer as they’re handling anything from domestic violence issues to noise complains. So I would wear my uniform and assist an officer on any call they need.”

With all of his experiences in mind, Varney stated “I intend to get a full time job and go to SPSCC, try to get my prerequisites done. Then after that I’m going to transfer to Evergreen and try to get my human resourcing degree, and try to become a police officer.”

Justine Seidel, an aspiring artist, was also able to further develop her skills while in high school by taking art classes and painting multiple class murals. She explained that she plans on attending Savannah College of Art and Design and pursuing “a major in illustration, and a minor in character design, or storyboarding…[which] includes like painting and graphic illustration and watercolor and color pencil and different kinds of things you draw. It’s just art” She went on to stated that “ultimately my dream job would be to be a storyboard or character concept designer for a big movie company like dreamworks or disney”

Unlike Seidel and Varney, college doesn’t seem to be a part of Joshua Watson’s post high school plan. Watson explained, “I have a job opportunity open, working for a family business down in Springfeild of Oregon. I’ll be making about 14 bucks an hour as a blasting assistant. So I’ll be hauling blasting powder up the mountain and blowing stuff up basically.” He then went on to say “I plan on kinda doing that for awhile. I mean it’s a summer job but if I can get a full time job after this summer I’ll probably work there for awhile longer until I move on, try to find something different to do. Gain some experience and maybe save up”

Despite the feeling many Seniors might have --about pushing through, being done with high school and moving on to better things-- it’s important to remember to enjoy these last few months. After all, as Varney said, “I feel like this is kind of our last year that we’re all going to be around each other… our last year that everyone that we’ve grown up with for how[ever] many year are going to be in the school together. And then after that we’ll be gone doing our own thing.” Watson seemed to understand the sense of community between class members, stating that “I’m pretty much friends, or at least know, just about everybody in this school pretty well.” He also added that it’s important to “have fun. Being a senior is a lot more fun than the lower class[es], and you kinda get the feeling of more freedom to do your own thing. I mean if you’ve got all your required classes out of the way, then you can pretty much lay back, take more electives, and just have fun.”

These Seniors--despite all their differences--all have a general idea of what it is they want to do after graduation. Seidel suggests that underclassmen follow suit and “make sure you research and figure out what you want to do [if you haven’t already,] because nothing’s worse than coming to the end of the year and not knowing what... is next”

Alicia Barrientes, Reporter

Yearbook students learn fast and work hard

Justine Seidel, Piper Shier, and Kendra Thompson, the editors of the Yearbook, stand with their advisor, Mr. Derrig (Photo by Ray Caldwell)

Since the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, Tumwater School District (TSD) teachers have been working under an expired 2-year contract that went into effect on September 1, 2013.

The Black Hills Yearbook program has had to learn very quickly in light of recent changes within the class. At the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, the responsibility of the yearbook and corresponding class was transferred from Josh Everson to Joe Derrig.

Derrig commented on his new position, saying, “Being the new guy, I had no idea.” He knew in September that this would be “a growing process”. However, he gave a lot of credit to his students, the yearbook staff, explaining that “they were quick on the uptake, getting the ideas, getting the process of putting things together, and making an order out of the mess.”

Behind the scenes, the editors have been hard at work to produce a quality yearbook. The editors this year are Justine Seidel and Piper Shier. Derrig also praised Kendra Thompson, who he said has “stepped into the role, but she doesn’t have the title. She will have the title next year.”

Thompson reflected on her leadership role in Yearbook, saying that “getting to talk to the student body and get to know them better” is her favorite part of the class. In September, she felt like she knew only about 5% of the school, and she estimates she knows about 85% now.

Regarding the creative process of building a yearbook, Derrig joked that he had no part in it. “Anything in this book that has to do with creativity didn’t come from me, it came from them.” His role in teaching the class is more of making sure everything is organized and gets done on time. Derrig commented, “I’m a business guy; I haven’t got an artistic bone in my body. But what I am is a project manager. As the class developed during the course of this year, that project management was what I was doing kind of quietly in the background. The staff was doing everything that had to do with the creativity and actually putting things together.”

When the students at Black Hills see the final project, Derrig wants to make sure that they know correct wording and quality photographs is something they have focused on. He expressed that “your kids will grab your yearbook 25 years from now. Flipping through it, they’re not reading the copy. They’re looking for pictures of Mom.” Putting into that kind of perspective, Derrig noted, “Buy a yearbook. It’s a book worth having.”

Sammi Payne, Reporter

TSD contract negotiations continue

TEA members participate in an informational demonstration. Photo Courtesy of the TEA

Since the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, Tumwater School District (TSD) teachers have been working under an expired 2-year contract that went into effect on September 1, 2013.

The TSD has been negotiating with the Tumwater Education Association (TEA) and the Tumwater Office Professionals Association, two employee unions, with regard to a new contract. When asked about the steps that take place within the contract negotiation process, Kim Howard, Coordinator of Communications and Community Relations, stated that, “The parties negotiate and discuss differences of opinion and/or differences in proposals in pursuit of an agreement.”

One specific difference in opinion is the amount of prep time teachers are able to have. According to Tim Voie, President of the Tumwater Education Association, the TSD, “wants to change the contract in a way that would give them more control over the duration of prep time on certain days,” while the TEA, “wants prep time to remain as it is in [their] current contract.”

In addition, the TEA has been pushing for higher compensation, as Tumwater teachers are compensated  less than teachers in surrounding districts. Teachers are compensated in the form of TRI money received for work done beyond the school day. According to Kevin Wimsett, a social studies teacher at BHHS, the TSD has a “total of 17 TRI days,” while teachers at North Thurston have a “total of 35.”

The difference in compensation between TSD teachers and teachers in neighboring districts is as Tim Voie states in an article in The Olympian, “anywhere from $3,500 to $6,500.”

When asked about why the wage gap and amount of compensation between TSD teachers and teachers in neighboring districts exists, Howard explained that, “There are several economic factors that vary among districts.” Some of which included, “the amount of local levy funding received, enrollment trends, the number of teachers employed beyond the state-funded allocation, and the amount of extra pay for additional work time not accounted for in teacher contracts.”

This information has lead some teachers within the TSD to consider transferring districts. In a letter written to the superintendent and Tumwater School Board members Wimsett stated that he has already had the BHHS principal Dave Myers “write [him] a letter of recommendation,” which would allow him to apply for a position at at North Thurston. In addition, Wimsett has also calculated that he could make, “over $140,000” more in a 23 year period by switching school districts.

Recently, the Tumwater Education Association and TSD agreed to file for the state Public Employment Relations Commission to act as a mediator in the contract negotiation process. The reason for filing for mediation is, neither the TSD nor the unions, “see the two sides getting much closer using the process that we’re doing right now,” as Tim Voie stated in an article in The Olympian.

As Howard states, “the district values all employees and works to address concerns on an ongoing basis,” and as the year continues, the TSD and the Tumwater education unions will continue the contract negotiation process.

Tristan Shank, Reporter

Dancing through the World of Disney for Tolo, 2016

Keilen Williams and Calli Puetz were ready to experience the Disney-themed festivities

Last Saturday, Black Hills High School students entered the world of Disney with a waltz to the commons for tolo, 2016. This year, Jancin Krohn picked the theme that gave both the commons and students a magical night to remember. This was ASBs most anticipated school dance, and with 280 students attending, the dance had many one of a kind characteristics.

Thanks to Jancin choosing this magical theme, girls had a running start on how to ask their partner out for tolo. For example, Calli Puetz asked Keilen Williams Calli dressed as a minion from Disney Pixar movie, Despicable Me; she held up a sign that said, “will you be my one in a minion?” The second couple was Ellie King asking TJ Borden dressed as the princess Belle with a sign that said, “will you be my beast at tolo?” Additionally, Jessica Rodgers, asked Thad Mashek in her bedroom at home by acting like sleeping beauty, with a sign that said,”wake me with a kiss for tolo”. Lastly, Liselotte Bal who asked Jordyn Vanbrunt with a bucket of goldfish that said, “All the fish in the sea will you go to tolo with me?” Apparently the Disney has worked its magic once again because all of these guys said yes.

Now, here are some reasons to why all BHHS students should consider joining their classmates at the next tolo and last school dance held by Jancin. According to Jancin this dance contained, “decorations from various Disney movies that the entire dance committee plus 6th period leadership worked all day and week for the set up”. Along with that, Tylan Rhoton, a sophomore, stated that, “Some people think that the Disney theme is very feminine but Disney is for all sexes males and females. The decorations are not strictly princess; it is a mutual decor and I loved how the Disneyland Arch was there when we went through”, from Tarzan, Pocahontas, and Ariel to Peter Pan. Ashley Whited was another person who really enjoyed the Disney variety. She said that the dance featured “random types of musics and played Disney songs for the slow dances.” She also said that the most memorable part was when she got there, and “there was a bunch of drawings of Disney characters, and then it’s like homecoming with the music and the lights and we danced all crazy and then the other half of people were grinding which got separated about half way through.”

Since tolo “is the most easygoing but still fun school dance, plus guys don't have to get tuxes and stuff” said Keilen Williams. More BHHS students should consider going next year because it's going to be a whole new ball game with ASB’s new chairmen Ally Fourtner, who was recently elected chairman for the upcoming school year .

Atlanta Hagen, Reporter

Perception Day brings people together

On Monday, January 12, members of the Black Hills High School student body came together to participate in Perception Day. An event put on each semester, Perception Day encourages fellow students to reach out to one another, and helps create new friendships through interactive group activities.

Perception Day seeks to create a positive community among students at Black Hills. Mr. Reeves explained the purpose, saying, “Perception Day is always just a reverse of an anti-bullying campaign where you build climate and culture by getting to know people and getting to experience different things. By bringing everyone in and talking about different ways to build a positive climate and culture as well as how to positive self-talk, it’s kinda the same thing as destroying bullying. So that’s the ultimate thing is building our climate and culture here at Black Hills so that it is stronger than it ever has been.”

Led by Generation Wellness Founder and Black Hills Graduate Lyndsay Morris, along with WKU Professor Cre Dye, the focus of the day is to become more aware of one’s “perception”, and one’s “perspective”. They defined perception as the “Ability to see, hear, feel or become aware of something through the senses.”, and perspective as, “Everything you do, every thought you have, every word you say creates a memory that will hold in your body. It’s imprinted on you and affect you in subtle ways - ways you are not always aware of. With that in mind, be very conscious and selective.”

The speakers were able to send their messages across by incorporating visual aids and interactive group activities. The concept that “We see with our brains and not with our eyes.” was explained through the interpretation of optical illusions and participating in mind-boggling activities. The incorporation of activities such as “Instant Replay” where students introduced themselves to their group circle in their own unique fashion, showcasing their own signature move, and having everyone repeat the move was a way of breaking the ice. After introducing themselves, students then began to share their own personal stories by beginning every sentence with “If you really knew me you’d know that…”, this then began the process of creating deeper, personal connections. More light-hearted activities like “Trust Walk”, where students with their eyes shut were guided by a random peer on a trip around the gym assisted in the development of trust and familiarity between students.

Many participants learned from their experiences that day. Junior Jonathan Truong, noted a valuable lesson he was able to take away from the various group activities. He said, “It was really interesting when we split into our small groups and learned how everyone has their own issues that they’ve had to deal with. I would’ve never guessed what some people were going through.” ASB secretary, Kelcie River, shared “I realized that we all have different perceptions on different things. We need to respect other people’s views, even if ours are different.”

By the end of the day, everybody came together as one. The closing activities began with the speakers joining all groups together in a big circle by touching the tip of their index fingers, and watching as the cohesive current from each participant was able to light up an energy ball. This stressed the importance of staying together, as the disjoining of just one pair’s fingertips turned off the ball’s light.

Group sharing concluded the day. Anyone who was willing to put themselves out in front of the group and speak of any personal stories was encouraged to do so. Some people shared stories of their own personal hardships, while others expressed their gratitude for people in their lives. Sophomore, Chantal Won, spoke about what she was able to take away from the whole experience, “You never know what’s going on in people’s lives so you should take the time getting to know people before you judge them.”

Perception Day taught many valuable lessons. From changing people’s outlooks on life, to helping others understand the personal hardships fellow peers go through, and even creating special bonds between previous strangers, it all came down to knowing how to invest one’s knowledge. As the speakers told everyone in the closing moments, “Knowledge is not power. It’s potential power… knowledge uninvested is wasted.”

Edward Afeiche, Reporter

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