By Lauren Whan
Saeger Middle student wins photo contest
Darby Duncan, an eighth-grader at Saeger Middle in the Francis Howell School District, won the ActivStars Midwest Summer Photo Contest for cheerleading with a photo (shown below) of herself completing a toe touch in front of Cinderella’s castle at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
ActivStars Midwest provides youth programs specializing in cheer, martial arts and flag football. The contest included entries from Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska.
In recognition of her winning entry, Duncan received a $50 merchandise voucher, a semester’s free tuition and a poster of her photo.
National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists named
Officials of the National Merit Scholarship Program have announced the names of approximately 16,000 students who qualify as semifinalists in the 61st annual National Merit Scholarship Program. These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,400 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, Semifinalists must advance to the Finalist level of the competition. About 90 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and about half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.
Locally, the following students were named as National Merit Semifinalists: William Fairless and Joseph Phillips from Duchesne; Rachel Nixon from Francis Howell Central; Timothy Felt, Elise Kaminski, Grant Morey and Sean Sebacher from Francis Howell; Caleb Black and Alex Warhover from Francis Howell North; Caleb Berg and Clarence Folkins from St. Charles West; and Rachel Neff, William Rackers and Hannah Steber from Wentzville Holt.
Talk of the Town
This summer, the Francis Howell North speech and debate team competed in the National Speech and Debate competition Dallas, Texas.
The tournament is one of the largest academic competitions in the world, and both teams competed to the highest level. Zoe Lawson qualified for nationals in the United States Extemporaneous Speaking category. Lauren Hogan, McKenzie Shea, Tessa Smith, Caitlind Walker and Emily Wilson qualified in the World Schools Debate category.
“It feels pretty incredible,” Lawson said, of the experience. “It was exceptionally exciting. I really wasn’t expecting to qualify at all but I made it not only to the national tournament but then advanced onto a further round. It was amazingly fun. I got to know a lot of the other competitors from the St. Louis area and we had a lot of fun together.”
The teams may seem like fun and games but it takes a lot of dedication to be successful.
“We debated topics from hydraulic fracturing to the effects of the Disney franchise to the extradition of criminals who could receive the death penalty. It was fascinating to see how big the National Speech and Debate Association is, and I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to be a part of such a large tournament,” Wilson said. “Just seeing some of the best students from across the country competing in so many different events was great!”
According to Lawson, the best part is the variety.
“There are thirteen different main events and they’re all quite different,” Lawson said. “There’s something for everyone and that always keeps it interesting. It’s also really fast paced.”
School is back in session, and the Speech and Debate team is revved up for their season to start again, but Wilson says the effort is worth the result.
“Speech and Debate requires a lot of work outside of school,” Wilson said, “But the friends that I’ve made through it and the confidence I’ve gained have made it completely worth it to me. I was very quiet before I started participating in speech and debate, and public speaking made me incredibly nervous. Now, I’m not afraid to voice my opinion when necessary and I’ve learned how to handle those nerves that would’ve scared me away from competition before.”
Francis Howell Drumline showcases its talent at SIUE
At the Fall Marching Percussion Festival held in Ralph Korte Stadium at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, the Francis Howell Drumline barely missed at beat during its performance.
The first annual showcase of the region’s premiere drumlines saw the Vikings take home a third place finish and the “Best Snareline” award, with 16 lines in competition. Snare drummers who competed were William Wise, Jullielle Bowman, Matthew Hinkle and Brian Hinkle.
Fort Zumwalt North senior honored for piano talent
North High senior Vinnie Guiffrida earned a Superior Virtuoso rating in the Piano Solo Virtuoso division at the Mid-America Music Association’s 59th Annual Music Festival. This honor means that Guiffrida scored a 95 or better when he performed “Etude Op. 10 #3” by Frédéric Chopin and “Pathetique Sonata Op. 13” by Ludwig van Beethoven.
First responders honored at 9/11 football game
The 9/11 football game between Francis Howell and Francis Howell North was a special night not only for the schools involved but also for first responders and the community.
The 9/11 game, deemed “First Responders Night,” bore a theme of “Red, White & Blue,” with fans encouraged to wear red, white and blue to the game. All first responders and military personnel in uniform or with an ID were admitted to the game for free. The game also served as a fundraiser for the BackStoppers.