All posts by Sheena Voge

Exchange Students Reflect

exchangeThis year two students from countries far away joined the Tiger Nation. Laura Meszynski, from Germany, and Ivan Petukhov, from Russia, shared their life changing American experiences.

“My favorite thing about America is the diversity. It can be seen in every aspect of America: the people, the places, and in the culture,” said Petukhov.

Culture differs everywhere one goes–from Russia to the United States.

“Americans smile a lot, whether it is a cashier in a store or just a random person on a street. It was kind of awkward at first when everyone smiled at me, but I am now accustomed to it. It is their sign of acknowledgement,” said Petukhov.

And from Germany to America.

“The people in this country act; they are more social and open. Everyone is theirself and has interesting personalities.  They are always friendly, talkative, and approachable,” said Meszynski.

Not only is the culture different but school systems are different, too.

“In Germany, after four years of elementary school, we all get separated. There are three “levels” and our parents decide which “level” we will be placed in. We graduate after 10 years of schooling and can either go into the workforce or get enrolled into a tech school or college. If we choose college, we need to have two extra years of school and take the Abitur test, which is similar to the American ACT or SAT, at the end of our high school career,” said Meszynski.

The Russians have their own way of schooling.

“In the Russian school system, we do not get to choose which classes we can take.  All of our classes are required.  We also cannot wear whatever we want to school.  We have dress codes and we do our studying on Saturdays,” said Petukhov.

However, American school system and the Russian schools have their advantages and disadvantages.

“I don’t know where I like better; here the classes are entertaining which makes learning interesting.  Here, in America, you all have sports and extracurriculars, which are awesome.  But the school in my country has classes that are only for studying and the classes are more challenging, which I enjoy,” said Petukhov.

With so many differences, there must be something that reminds them of home.

“Germany and America both have some of the same fashion styles. We also have stop lights shopping malls,” said Meszynski.

“Russia and America are more similar than some people might think. For example, our countries have similar thoughts and beliefs,” said Petukhov.

While here in America, Petukhov was hosted by the LaBarberas.

“My experience with the host family was amazing! I would like to say thank you to [the] LaBarbera family, host mom Kelly, host dad Patrick, and my host brother Michael. They have been treated me as I’ve always been part of their family. The LaBarberas helped me overcome all the difficulties I’ve faced here and they gave me a lot of advice. We just simply became friends for life, I think. Best host family I couldn’t even wish for! I love them,” said Petukhov.

Meszynski stayed with the Hoffmans.

“My host family, The Hoffmans, are like a second family for me. I love them, even though I’m not actually related to them. I am so glad I have them,” said Meszynski.

During their stay the made ties that will last a lifetime and from their experience in the United States, Meszynski and Petukhov learned many new things.

“I think I have changed a lot while I was here. I learned a lot about myself and about people. I learned that you can make friends anywhere in the world and that people can be very different but they are still people. We are all connected in some way. Also, I learned that anything is possible and you can make it happen if you really want to and work hard for it,” said Meszynski.

“I learned a lot of things about American culture, society, history, numerous life tips, and simply how to live on your own being so far away from parents. In addition to that, I realized how important my parents are and how much they love me,” said Petukhov.

Just as students will miss them they will miss all of the friends and staff they have met here and some of American specialties.

“The things I will miss the most are all the friends I have made here, my host family, sports events, and school dances,” said Meszynski.

“First, I will miss the variety of fast-food because we do not have many places like that in my country.  Next, I will miss my sleep on Saturdays, because we, back there, do study on Saturdays and going to school.  Lastly, I will miss all my friends from here. Thank you to everyone who was nice to me here,” said Petukhov.

Petukhov leaves for home June 19 and Meszynski will depart from America on July 5.

Seniors Transition from High School

Senior Miranda Jessie was accepted at the UW- Eau Claire.
Senior Miranda Jessie was accepted at the UW- Eau Claire.

As the Class of 2014 prepares to graduate, students are constantly asked about their plans after graduation. This spring, seniors will part and go their separate ways both near and far away from home.

“Iowa State University will be my new home for the next 6 to 8 years as I pursue my childhood dream of getting my PHD in the veterinary science field. Iowa State is the most prestigious of all veterinary school and I am ready to take on all the challenge that comes with attaining my degree,” said Taylar Dalbec.

Challenge is just the beginning for another senior; six years is half the time he will endure.

“In the fall of 2014, I will be attending the UW- Eau Claire majoring in business and administration and then start on my journey of becoming an anesthesiologist. It will take 12 years to get there, but I am looking forward to the challenge,” said Dominic Vase.

An anesthesiologist is a medical doctor who gives epidurals and anesthesia to patients in pain or before beginning surgery. Vase will start his future in Eau Claire and transfer to a larger medical school to complete his degree. Like Vase, other current seniors have plans before getting their degrees.

“My career of choice is to be a criminal investigator, but first I am going to attaining my degree in early childhood education from Gateway Technical College, in Kenosha. Helping out my community and making a difference is what I look forward to the most,” said Kaitlyn Johnson.

Johnson took classes throughout high school and earned her certification as an Early Childhood Teachers Assistant which allows her to work with children in child care centers. Taking classes in high school also inspired another senior.

“I was first introduced to Ho-Chunk 1 as a class; it has influenced my decision for future plans. My plan after high school is to take a year off and work with multiple companies on different projects. I aspire to go into language tutoring, specifically Ho-Chunk.   I’m also looking towards majoring in history or political science at the UW- Eau Claire in the fall of 2015,” said William Mackenzie.

Like Mackenzie, many seniors are working toward interesting jobs.

“My dream job is to become the General Manager of the Milwaukee Brewers. I would certainly like to have a business or statistics career with some sports organization in some capacity. This profession is most likely different from many other students. There is only one General Manager for each MLB baseball organization, so it is not a highly populated job,” said Ethan Young.

A general manager is the business executive who puts together the roster of players and overseas the personnel. Rosters are one way to get involved in college whether it be in football, like Young at UW- La crosse, or Tennis and Track at the UW- Stevens Point.

“I am cannot wait to expand my knowledge and meet many new people at the UW- Stevens Point. I will be on the track and tennis teams while working toward my degree in Interior Architecture and Business Administration. I will be very busy in college doing two sports and classes so using my time efficiently will require planning on my part but I am excited,” said Abbey Johnson.

Another way to get involved in college is through music.

“I am eager to take part in orchestra and choirs at the UW- Eau Claire, in addition to majoring in English to become a teacher. I am looking forward to getting to work with future students and to be doing something that I enjoy,” said Katherine Hegna.

Enjoying what you do is an important aspect in choosing a career. College is not the interest of everyone.

“After high school I am joining the army to become an Airborne Ranger with hopes of becoming part of the Green Beret special forces of the Army. I am very excited about my future and the brotherhoods I will make through my endeavors,” said Austin Brown.

Whether it is near, or far, college, workforce, or military, the future graduates have plans for their futures and can now answer the most asked question of senior year. “What are you doing after high school?”

Educational Courses Prevent Divorce

Adults Need Edu CoursesUpon getting a divorce, parenting courses are necessary for all couples who have minor children.

If a couple with children has to engage in a course before separating, the couple should have to take part in a premarital course. Taking these courses will increase the number of lifelong marriages, lessen the number of single parents, and help prepare adequate knowledge to new parents.

According to Wisconsin Department of Health Services, a total of 30,287 marriages occurred in Wisconsin in 2011, representing an increase of 335 marriages that occurred in 2010. Of those married, 16,635 divorces occurred in Wisconsin in 2011. But a survey conducted by USA Today shows couples who received premarital education had a 31% lower chance of divorce.

“My spouse and I took an an optional premarital course through the church I was married at. It was very beneficial. The class made us think of things between us and in general before we got married that would otherwise not have been brought up until after marriage if we had not attended those classes. The class also reinforced that all issues can be worked through if we work at them together,” said Maria Kinder, who’s been married for 25 years and counting.

Enduring premarital courses would increase more sureness of lifelong happiness between couples and in turn decrease divorce rates and children suffering through the divorce of their parents.

Fifty-four percent of all Wisconsin divorces in 2011 involved families with children under 18 years of age. Among divorces involving children, an average of 1.9 children were affected by each divorce (WDHS).

“Divorce has torn my family apart and really put a toll on my siblings and I. I am a child of a single parent of three. When I had to listen to all the fighting, it was hard to concentrate on homework, and I would try to occupy my younger siblings so they wouldn’t hear what was going on. It is a very stressful situation that, unfortunately, many kids, of all ages, have to go through,” said one student.

Adults going through a divorce who have minor children under 16 are ordered to attend an educational class. There is a fee for attending the class. In family cases where the parties have minor children and in all paternity cases, a parenting plan may be required, reports the Government Departments of Clerk of Circuit Court.

These courses are beneficial to both the child and the adults involved. Through these courses, parents are provided with training in parenting techniques, ways to help children cope, and pitfalls to avoid.

Although the divorce rate among couples with children is 40 percent lower than couples without children, there is no need for divorce to even occur.   If a couple takes premarital course before hand they should be prepared for what is to come. Children should not have to go through divorces of the parents. In most cases it can be prevented by noticing signs before hand.

Peer Ministers Kicking off Peace Pole Project

Peace Poles are found all over the world built with the hope of unifying people of all diversities. This peace pole can be found in Senior Kjell Bakken’s front yard.
Peace Poles are found all over the world built with the hope of unifying people of all diversities. This peace pole can be found in Senior Kjell Bakken’s front yard.

Like a fist, Tigers football players unite as a family, coming together to win the game. In the Black River Falls School District Tigers come together to make it a better place. Seniors Kjell Bakken, Chaz Churchill  and junior Mary Onstad came together to strengthen the Tiger Nation and unify with the community through the Peace Pole Project.

A Peace Pole is a six-sided pole that proclaims “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in six different languages. They can be found all over the world.

“As a Peer Ministry Team, our hopes for the Peace Pole Project are, not only that the pole brings us Tigers together with the community, but that the six languages engraved on the pole links us together with people all around the world,” said Onstad.

Over 10,000 Peace Poles can be found in 180 countries all over the world dedicated as monuments to peace. They serve as a visual and constant reminder of prayer for world peace. The idea for the making of a peace pole in the Black River Falls community came about at one of the monthly meetings between the 2013-2014 Peer Ministry Team of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and Pastor Eric Bakken. At the Team meeting they considered ways for the congregation to build bridges and engage in a positive and healthy manner between the Evangelical Lutheran congregation and the local school and community.

“My personal hopes for the peace pole is that it can, first, be a cross-cultural gathering place that will create a greater awareness of the need for people to learn about one another, and secondly, foster a stronger sense of tolerance and respect for the wonderful diversity found in our community and world. This monument will help strengthen and unify the members of the school, and community, but also the wider community,” said Pastor. Bakken.

The Peace Pole Project was taken by Barnett to both Principal Tom Chambers and the Student Senate. Chambers approved of the project and the Senate vote was unanimous.

“We, the Senate, wanted to build the Peace Pole for our peers and community members. With this Peace Pole we are confident that the community will cherish and unify around the pole,” said Barnett.

The fundraising for the Peace Pole Project begins in May. Donors are only allowed to give one dollar toward the Pole and in turn will receive a wristband with the words “May Peace Prevail on Earth Peace Pole 2014” on them. Money can be collected by any of the Peer Ministers or brought to the main office of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

“We want one dollar donations per person to show that if everyone donates just a little we can make a big difference. It is more meaningful if everyone pitches in than a few people donating the money for the monument. A dollar per person gets everyone involved and the wristbands will illustrate everyone’s support toward the Peace Pole Project because bringing everyone together is what our mission for this project and as Peer Ministers is what it’s all about,” said Churchill.

Defining The Tiger Shooters

New Tiger Shooter, Junior, Mackenzie Quackenbush, attends her first practice shoot of the season.
New Tiger Shooter, Junior, Mackenzie Quackenbush, attends her first practice shoot of the season.

Several students qualified for nationals in the shooting division, but few people know what shooting really means. When most people hear the words shooter, they immediately think basketball but Tiger shooters are not shooting baskets; they shoot a variety of targets.

The Shooting Tigers began three years ago when a student asked head coach Scott Goetzka, the owner of Woods and Meadow Hunting Preserve and Sporting Clays, how he would go about starting a Scholastic Clay Target Program  (SCTP) at Black River Falls High School.

According to assistant coach Perry Nichols, Goetzka checked with the state adviser for SCTP. The state adviser thought starting a shooting team was a great idea and suggested that the student talk to administration to start a team in Black River Falls. The student then asked Principal Tom Chambers about the possibility of starting a team through the school. A meeting was set up and Goetzka and Nichols explained the SCTP to Chambers. Chambers was in favor of the idea and called the district superintendent, and he gave the team his blessing. Tiger Shooters participated as a co-curricular team the first year, in 2012, and then became an official varsity lettering sport in 2013.

“Our first year as an official team we had to participate in the Junior Varsity Division. We won state champions at the state tournament which advanced our team to the nationals. It was an honor to help coach the kids and a great feeling to see the new team excel,” said Nichols.

The shooters had to meet four requirements that qualified them for the state. They had to have passing grades, not miss more than 2 practices, shoot at least 300 registered targets and participate in at least one Registered Shoot through the National Sporting Clays Association. Last year the Tiger Shooters had several shooters qualify for the state tournament. Sophomore Keoinia Dobson was one of them.

“My experience at state was really fun! I shot JV like all the first year shooters on our team. I ended up shooting a personal best which won me third place in my division and qualified me for the National shoot in Sparta, Illinois. I’m really looking forward to this year’s shoot, and I know we’re all looking forward to stat. Hopefully there will be multiple people that qualify for nationals,” said Dobson.

Seniors Thomas Torkelson,  Dillan Bunde and  Joel Kinder all took second at state in their divisions.

“I am eager for this season to start with a bang. We have a lot of returning shooters like sophomore Keoinia Dobson, senior Dillan Bunde, junior Sydney Hanson, senior Tommy Torkelson, junior Eli Parker, junior Trey Hizer, junior Matthew Brauner, and myself, plus some new faces–junior Mackenzie Quackenbush, junior Cheyenne O’Neil Saunders, senior Sheena Voge, and senior Ryan Hansen. We have a great group of people. I think we will go far this year,” said Kinder.

Shooters start their season March 16, at the Woods and Meadow Shooting Range in Warrens with state scheduled for June 14 in Wern Valley.

[In a previous version of this story, the author incorrectly stated that Thomas Torkelson, Dillan Bunde and Joel Kinder earned a second at nationals. They earned a second at state, instead. Keoinia Dobson’s name was also spelled incorrectly.]