The Tom Tom The Student News Site of Bellevue East High School Fri, 28 Feb 2020 19:38:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 East gets needed upgrades, repairs Fri, 28 Feb 2020 19:36:47 +0000 East will receive repairs and replacements to the roof, water heater, and auditorium as the Bellevue Public Schools Board of Education decided at the end of last year.

On December 9, the Bellevue Public School Board of Education unanimously agreed to accept bids from Ray Martin Company for replacements of the school’s water heater and from Mejia Roofing for roof replacements in the auditorium entrance.

“It’s always nice to get new things and sometimes it’s hard for school districts to get the funds together to make these things happen, so I feel very thankful that we’re able to get these updates to our facility,” theatrer director Joseph Hamik said.

The Board of Education decided to approve of these projects, which will be paid for through the bond. The specific projects of the new roofing and water heaters are planned to happen in the near future.

“The hot water heaters are currently being replaced and should be done shortly,” Superintendent Jeff Rippe said. “The roof will be replaced when the weather permits it to be replaced.”

The repairs and replacements are needed because the new HVAC  system required more water heaters and the old water heaters were in need of replacement. The roof replacements are needed because of age.

“The reason East needs improvements is for the fact that the school is just getting old,” head custodian John Dengel said. “Not only old, but the building just gets a lot of wear and tear. Things wear out; they become obsolete and then need to be upgraded.”

Other repairs and replacements are already completed. The auditorium has a new sound system, curtains and choir risers. There are also new projection systems and the television screens that were added in the beginning of the school year.

“The new improvements have been just fantastic. The new HVAC in itself has satisfied the majority of the people in the building,” Dengel said. “The consistency and reliability is a godsend. The new improvements to the pool were well overdue.”

More improvements are expected in the future, the roof in the entrance of the auditorium. In addition to the new roofing, a concert shell will be added to the stage so it is also going to be resurfaced.

“It’s great to see improvements being made to the auditorium and the school. I’m excited to see the end product when it’s all finished,” Hamik said.

]]> 0
Physical intervention bill could create policy in BPS Fri, 28 Feb 2020 19:33:56 +0000 This legislative session, an amendment to the Student Discipline Act made its way onto the floor accompanied by a 3-hour debate.

Legislative Bill 147 was introduced last year by Senator Mike Groene in conjunction with the school board and administrators associations, and the Nebraska State Education Association (NSEA). Amendment 1803 to the original bill went up for debate this year. Groene said he introduced this bill so that every parent who drops their child off at the front door of school can leave assured that their child is safe. 

“It is a very good bill,” Groene said. “It clears up a lot of errors in local school districts that do not have a good, solid policy. In actuality, it is color blind, academic achievement blind, so we treat all children the same.”

If passed, BPS would create a policy to outline physical intervention use in the district, abiding by the law. 

“We already have teachers who are restraining students when need be; it is not like Bellevue has had a huge issue with this,” Superintendent Jeff Rippe said. “I would hope that teachers would say the same, that we support when they do need to restrain a student, obviously in an appropriate way.”

The bill states that teachers and other school personnel may use reasonable physical intervention to safely manage the behavior of a student to protect all students, teachers, or other school personnel from physical injury. 

“Nobody has the right to harm someone else; there is no excuse for that,” Groene said. “So if you are harming someone else, there should be an adult in the room protecting you from yourself and the person you are harming.”

NSEA president Jenni Benson said she also wants every other avenue to be used in deescalation, including working with students to build relationships in and out of the classroom. 

“What we have found across the state is that we have some very diverse rules in different districts and some are ‘completely no matter what happens, hands off,’” Benson said. “In the meantime, people are getting seriously injured.”

Push back on the bill came from not only activist groups concerned for students and teachers who may be affected negatively by this bill, but also specifically from a group of parents who travelled to the capitol to protest LB 147. 

“The biggest problem with LB 147 is the blanket immunity that is granted to teachers,” Community activist Schmeeka Simpson said. “It says there are no administrative or legal consequences if a teacher reasonably restrains a child.”

Simpson cited section four of the bill where no teacher or other school personnel will receive professional or administrative discipline, or be held criminally or civilly liable for the use of physical intervention if such physical intervention was reasonable.

“I believe the only reason LB 147 is up for debate is because of the immunity piece,” Simpson said. “I do not feel that there is a legislative change that can be made because LB 147 is strictly there to grant immunity.”

Groene said the bill would not change the exemption from liability in schools, rather make it so every school must have a policy in place that the parents, teachers, and students will know. Rippe and Benson both said they would rather be proactive in these instances. Rippe said policies like the Boys Town initiative will be implemented as a proactive approach to change some of the behaviors. He said hopefully students understand with a common language and common model, then hopefully schools would not have to worry about those disruptions where restraint would have to take place.

“The question is do we really need this bill or can we just continue to do what we are doing but if that is the case to make it consistent, not only in the metro area but consistent across Nebraska,” Rippe said. “So if it does pass, it does create that consistency and people do see that. We just want to make sure we are doing the right things to provide the appropriate education for our students.”

]]> 0
BPD purchases 13 new cruisers Fri, 28 Feb 2020 19:30:50 +0000 The Bellevue Police Department has 90 sworn law enforcement officers and about 50 cruisers that serve about 53,000 citizens and 16.73 square miles.

As the department uses their older vehicles and their miles rack up, it becomes time to purchase new vehicles and equipment. This is where the 2020 Ford Utility Hybrid rolls in.

“As older cruisers mile out, new ones are needed. We try and replace our vehicles between 80,000 and 100,000 miles,” Bellevue Police Capt. Tom Dargy said. “Our vehicles idle more than a normal vehicle so the wear and tear is much greater on these vehicles. For every 1 hour of idle time, it equals 33 miles of driving.”

One cruiser has 4,090 idling hours which equals 134,970 additional miles of driving for that cruiser. That wear and tear alone is a good reason to be replacing the old cars with new ones.

“I go over the mileage sheet of our cruisers every few months and if needed shift officers to other cruisers to adjust. Once a cruiser is identified as being close to our mileage threshold, it is placed on a list. That list is then turned into a budget request to the city on our Capitol Improvement Project,” Dargy said. “Once that is approved, I then prepare a detailed report and supporting documentation to the City Council asking them to approve the request. Once they approve it, I then order the vehicles from the dealer, which is affiliated with the State Bid.”

The number of marked units the department has available can fluctuate depending on vehicle maintenance, accidents and when the department trades out cruisers.

“We try to maintain 50 marked units which provides enough cars for 4 full Shifts, K-9, School Resource Officers, Supervisors, Traffic Unit and our Special Services Unit,” Dargy said.

One of the 13 new cruisers is unmarked and is used by the Bellevue Police’s Special Services Unit. This unmarked variant of the cruiser blends in with traffic and assists the department with enforcement.

“The new Ford SUV that I drive is great. There are so many SUV’s on the road it blends in very well,” Bellevue Police Ofc. Chris Abbott said. “With it being unmarked, it has been a great asset to curbing traffic violations.”

The Bellevue Police try to reuse as much equipment as possible in their newer cars in an attempt to reduce the overall cost for the cars.

“As we move from Dodge Chargers and Ford Crown Victoria’s to the new Fords Utilities, equipment such as prisoner transport cages are not able to be used, so that must be purchased new. Each piece of equipment is closely scrutinized and we try to carry over as much equipment as possible,” Dargy said.

If the equipment cannot be moved from one vehicle to another they find a replacement. All of the police vehicles have the same technology inside.

“The new cruisers have the same equipment as all the other cruisers. This includes: radar, computer, E-ticket, shotgun, PBT, and Watch Guard cruiser video with body camera,” Abbott said.

The new cruisers were a purchase that was approved by the Bellevue City Council back in January of 2019 and were expected to be delivered by July of 2019. This was before Ford ran into problems fulfilling their order pushing back the delivery date.

“The vehicle we ordered was the Ford Utility Hybrid which is basically the Police version of the Ford Explorer. The order was part of the State of Nebraska Bid on pricing. The vehicles were purchased for $34,371.00 each.” Dargy said. “The average cost for upfitting the car with a cruiser camera, computer tablet and emergency equipment, radios, prisoner cage, etc., is approximately  $20,000.00.”

The Ford Utility Hybrid uses its Hybrid technology to save power and fuel. When the car detects that it is not going fast enough or doing enough to justify using the engine, for instance at a stop light, it will shut off, running on only battery power, much like many other Hybrid cars on the road.

“The engines will shut off after when you come up to a stop light, if you’re breaking, it’ll shut off and if you’re just driving around a parking lot, it just runs on battery power,” Bellevue Police Ofc. Shaun Manning said. “It’s like a golf cart. And when you actually get on, it it kicks on; it takes some getting used to.”

This version of the Ford Explorer has several perks when compared to the civilian version of the Ford Explorer. These perks are in place to help aid the department to saving more money.

“The new vehicles are the Hybrids which is estimated by Ford to save roughly $3,800 a year per vehicle on gas based on $3.00 a gallon. The bigger value for the department is the additional battery power these give us,” Dargy said.
“We currently have cruiser video cameras and computers that can quickly draw down a normal car battery. Our non-hybrid vehicles currently have two car batteries in them and we still experience battery failure, especially in the winter months.”

]]> 0
East facilitates new bilingual program Fri, 28 Feb 2020 19:24:21 +0000 The sounds of many voices fill the air as the bright light shines on the many students in the room. There’s definitely an age difference between the two groups of students here, but all show the same excitement.

As a part of their curriculum, the Spanish V students at East work to teach a younger group of students basics of Spanish.

“When the class became AP and dual enrollment, I thought that there needs to be a community component because it’s college level and all of my college level courses had a community activism or outreach,” Spanish instructor Piper Porras said. “As a teacher, I just thought that there’s something we can do in the community – literacy.”

East Spanish V students ,in conjunction with the Early Childhood Center (ECC), have been working to help teach children aged 3 to 5 basic level Spanish. Earlier in the year, parents were given the opportunity to sign their children up for this class.

“I just thought kids need that, and the earlier you expose a kid, the better their language skills are in either language. You could even expose them to nine languages and they’d be fine,” Porras said. “The window starts to close at age seven for second language learning, and that doesn’t mean you won’t learn it, but you’ll always have an accent. I just felt passionately about community outreach because it’s AP and that’s a good college skill, and literacy can just change your life.”

The Spanish V class travels from East to the ECC every Wednesday during second hour in order to go teach the children. The experience can vary from week to week, but generally it is positive and fast paced.

“I see all children young and old learning from each other new vocabulary and it is so much fun to see how they come in the morning and start greeting everyone. The interactions and conversations are priceless to build lifelong relationships,” bilingual paraprofessional at the ECC Raquel Ramirez said.

Currently, the Spanish V students are assigned into groups of four or five and they all work together to help teach groups of two to five preschool aged children the basics of Spanish. Each Tuesday the high school students get in their groups and lesson plan for the following day. The high school students teach only very basic Spanish to the children, which can range from colors, numbers, and other simple vocabulary words based on whatever book they are reading that week.

The idea of Spanish V students going on to work with teaching younger students basic Spanish is not unique to just this year. In past years, the high school students had the opportunity to work with elementary school students instead. Due to scheduling conflicts this year, it was decided to instead take the opportunity to students at the ECC.

“This program is a great opportunity to introduce a second language to children and also a benefit for hispanic families to maintain their native language skills and an opportunity to learn English,” Ramirez said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for children and adults to connect cultures and respect each other to build greater communities all around the world.”

Having the opportunity to teach and connect with the younger students can be very valuable to the high school students. This class provides experiences for the students in and out of the classroom.

“I also think it helps people see how easily you can have purpose. Like there are things that you can do in any class that can give you a sense of purpose and worth,” Porras said.

]]> 0
East welcomes a new SRO to the school Fri, 28 Feb 2020 19:15:12 +0000 School resource officers are law enforcement officers who are responsible for the safety and crime prevention in schools. Sgt. Howard Banks became the new SRO after Officer Anthony Orsi moved on to a different profession in Millard. Banks was a former Bellevue East  student before he started his police career.

“I graduated from here years ago and coached football here and then I came to be a school resource officer here from 2008 to 2012,” Bank said. “Then I got promoted and had to go back to nights to supervise.”

After Orsi left East, a new SRO had to fill the position, but with the police department down 15 to 18 officers, Banks said he had to fill the position.

Dean Mary Trowbridge warmly welcomed Banks back into the Bellevue East family. Given that Banks was enrolled at East a long time ago, he formed ties with former instructors which makes transitioning as the SRO smoother.

“Officer Banks was actually a student of mine way back in the day, so I love having Officer Banks, and he was here as an SRO before so he has super good relationships with students which makes him the best of the best,” Trowbridge said.

With having a job, there are parts of the work that people enjoy. Sgt. Howard Banks briefly explained his favorite part about being an SRO at Bellevue East, even in the past.

“I love interacting with the kids, since I have to do double duty I can not do as much as I would like to, but there would be times I would get out and run passes, come to classrooms, and take part in the pep rallies just so I could interact with the kids,” Banks said.

A SRO is a person who takes on the responsibility of protecting a school environment in case anything happens. Dean John Siegel is another dean alongside Trowbridge who understands how important a SRO is to the schools every day.

“The School Resource Officer provides extra security within the school and is a great resource of information for students and families,” Siegel said.

Banks has his own plan to make sure East improves over time, from handling violence in schools, to the improving students’grades and their futures. He says that the main priority for his plan includes keping everyone in the building safe.

“Eventually, the plan is going to be to select another School Resource Officer for the school, but I will more than likely be here for the rest of the year, possibly summer and next year,” Banks said. “My overall plan for just the kids in general is that they are safe and the staff is safe and that we can hopefully reduce the number of fights and to see the graduation rate increase.”

]]> 0
Vaping affects East students Fri, 28 Feb 2020 19:12:40 +0000 As vaping has started to become popular in the past few years, it has become more of a problem at East as well.

Not only are students vaping in classrooms and bathrooms, but also students are selling and distributing JUULpods. JUULpods are e-cigarettes that are made to look more discrete and like a USB.

“I don’t support vaping because I believe it is bad for your health, not to mention a lot of people get addicted to it which is another problem in itself. Vaping just causes multiple problems,” senior Abigail Secrist said.

Since it has become such an issue at East, during the first semester of the 2019-2020 school year, vaping became a bigger topic of discussion in the school. Posters were hung around the school to inform students about the dangers of vaping as many advertisements tell students that vapes are better than regular cigarettes which is not the case. JUULpods contain about the same amount of nicotine as 20 cigarettes.

“My main encounter is people vaping in the restroom especially during passing periods causing people to be late and not be able to use the restroom. I have seen up to around 10 people in the restroom just standing and vaping,” Secrist said.

Also in the first semester, signs were implemented into bathrooms that state “STOP: Two or more students in a stall at any time will  result in a SEARCH by school personnel.” This means that if there are two students in one stall and a staff member has reasonable suspicion then they are allowed to search a student’s belongings.

“Reasonable suspicion is a suspicion of wrongdoing based on specific facts and not on a mere hunch or rumor. For example, if the principal wants to search you because he or she thinks you ‘look like a drug dealer,’ that isn’t good enough,” Nebraska American Civil Liberties Union said.

Since putting signs and posters up around the school, the amount of students vaping has not decreased. Staff continuously find students in bathrooms vaping. The staff also are finding more and more students that are addicted to nicotine and refuse or are unable to quit.

“Students that vape are given consequences ranging from ISS to OSS depending on different circumstances such as repeat offenses, etc. They are also required to take a mini course on the dangers of vaping while they are suspended,” Dean Colin Mink said.

The district is coming up with new ways to help solve the problem. This includes education in the classroom on the dangers of vaping, informative posters, and frequent dean and staff checks of the restrooms. The intent is for students to be aware of the dangers of vaping and getting addicted to nicotine.

“I believe that educating (not simply scare tactics) students and parents, who could be supplying the student based on misinformation, on the negative side effects of vaping,” instructor Elizabeth Beman said. “It could also be a teachable moment on how consumers are targeted by ad companies.”

]]> 0
Vaping brings negative effects to teens, young adults Fri, 28 Feb 2020 19:12:04 +0000 The widespread use of e-cigarettes has caused many health issues and effects to many people in the United States, including teenagers and young adults.

E-cigarettes and vapes were originally created as an alternative to smoking to help those addicted to nicotine recover. However, a large number of teenagers have taken up vaping which has led to an increase in health effects.

“I think most teens continue to vape because they think it’s cool and it’s just another way to hang out with their friends,” senior Jordan Goble said. “They don’t really think about the consequences because it’s in the future and it doesn’t really matter right now.”

The majority of e-cigarettes that are produced contain nicotine, as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 99% of e-cigarettes that they tested contained nicotine.

According to the CDC, “some e-cigarette labels do not disclose that they contain nicotine, and some e-cigarettes marketed as containing 0% nicotine have been found to contain nicotine.”

The National Institute of Drug Abuse reports that in 2018, about 25.7% of high school seniors believe they are vaping “just flavoring” which contradicts with the CDC’s findings. Students’ potential lack of knowledge about what is contained in e-cigarettes can lead to unknowingly causing more health effects.

Nicotine in itself can cause health issues specifically to youths and young adults. The CDC reports that studies from National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine shows nicotine can cause significant harm to a growing brain. The human brain continues to develop until around age 25, so using nicotine products in adolescence can affect parts of the brain that control factors like attention, mood, and impulse control. Additionally, it is reported that using nicotine products could potentially lead to future drug addiction.

“Each time a new memory is created or a new skill is learned, stronger connections – or synapses – are built between brain cells,” according to the CDC. “Young people’s brains build synapses faster than adult brains. Nicotine changes the way these synapses are formed.”

The CDC has coined the term EVALI, which stands for e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury, to describe the various lung effects that have been caused. In August of 2019, there was a sharp increase in the amount of EVALI cases in the United States that peaked in September of 2019, but that number has been consistently declining since then.

Even with the decline in cases, the CDC reported that as of February 4, 2020, there has been 2,758 hospitalized EVALI cases in the U.S. with 64 resulting in death across 28 states and the District of Columbia.

“In the United States, e-cigarette use among youth has exploded into what the Surgeon General and the Food & Drug Administration have called ‘epidemic’ levels – with Juul and its imitators being the primary cause,” the organization Tobacco Free Kids reports. “With all of the major multinational tobacco companies launching their own e-cigarettes or buying established brands, and e-cigarette brands setting up shop in new countries, there is concern that the youth e-cigarette epidemic in the United States will soon spread to other countries.”

A report from the National Institute of Drug Abuse states that in 2019, approximately one in every four high school seniors has vaped a substance that includes nicotine in the past month. Even with this being a relatively large amount of high school seniors, there are still some that are against vaping due to the potential consequences on their health.

“I don’t see the point in vaping. It’s just flavored chemicals going into your body that harms you the more you vape,” Goble said.

]]> 0
Being a teacher is fun and games Fri, 28 Feb 2020 19:10:55 +0000 Contrary to popular belief, teachers actually do not live at school and many have hobbies that do not reflect their day jobs. For life outside the classroom of teacher Chas Busch, it is Ultimate Frisbee.

Busch started playing Ultimate in college at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. This year marked his tenth year of playing, five of those as a player at UNO and five as a coach there.

“I liked how accessible the sport was. I had only played in gym a couple of times in high school, but that was the case for most of the people at the first practice,” Busch said. “I fell in love with the sport and its community, played all through college and ever since.”

As for the structure of the sport, Busch said Ultimate Frisbee has five levels. Pickup teams have games that are roughly organized where anyone can play and the rules are loosely enforced, league teams are local organizations that have captains who draft teams for weekly scheduled games with specific rules, colleges or university teams that practice on a weekly basis and travel to compete in tournaments across the country, club teams that travel to play in tournaments across the country, and semi-professional teams that travel to play in single games against other teams in their division culminating in a championship weekend.

“In Omaha we run a fall, winter and summer league,” Busch said. “I have played in every season of league since I started. I have captained for the past 7 years and helped organize the league for the past 5 years.”

On Jan. 11, Busch traveled to Madison, Wisconsin to try out for their professional Ultimate Frisbee team. This was his third year trying out, but he did not make the team this year.

“This was a rough year for me at tryouts, I have not done as much training this year as in years past,” Busch said. “I think I played well in that I did not make many mistakes, but my overall fitness was not at the level that it was last year.”

If Busch makes the team, he will play one or two games a week starting in late May. While the school year is in session, he will travel up to Madison on the weekends to practice with the team. Once the school year is over he will move there for the summer.

“I have always strived to get better at the sport and play at the highest level,” Busch said. “I love the competition. Professional Ultimate is not a lucrative venture, but the level of play, organization and exposure is appealing.”

]]> 0
Soccer readies for another season Fri, 28 Feb 2020 19:10:12 +0000 With the soccer season quickly coming up, the teams are preparing to tackle this year head on and kick it off just right.

With the weather slowly getting better, the soccer season is getting ready to begin, with the first game Mar. 18 at home, so the players are having to get ready.

“Right now we’ve mainly doing conditioning type training, like long distance, sprints, stairs, and weight room,” sophomore Mara Parker said.

The game is always progressing and changing, and so is the team. The team has been practicing and conditioning indoors since the end of last season preparing for this upcoming season.

“We have been preparing since last season finished. We compete in a Summer League, we do off season conditioning and strength training in both the summer and winter, and we also participate in an indoor league during the winter season,” girls varsity head coach Sara Fjell said.

In athletics, one of the things to being successful is having a bond with the team. If a team is constantly fighting at practice and off the field, that will transfer onto the field and will cause issues.

“A lot of our players are friends on and off the field, and also participate in other activities and sports with each other. They all have a similar passion for getting better each time we are on the field and at practice and are good motivators for each other,” Fjell said.

As Bellevue East soccer fans, they are always ready to see the changes and new things coach Fjell has implemented and what it will do for the team. Also exciting is the “returning 10 of our 11 starters from last season,” Fjell said. The team will be looking to just continue their development as a team instead of having to rebuild new players and put them into the lineup with little experience.

“Our fans should expect improvement all over the field. WIth so many girls coming back, and with the addition of some pretty talented kids, we have the potential to almost double our wins this season,” Fjell said.

The boys team has also been undergoing some changes as well. The team has had three coaches over the past year: Jeremy Lenz, Daniel Vasquez Gutierrez, and currently Luis Vasquesz. Through it all, the team has stuck together through it all.

“So far the team has improved on communication. We have been practicing and playing individually together where we do drills where we recreate scenarios from previous games,” sophomore player Hamza Mberwa said.

]]> 0
Powerlifing raises bar to prepare for state meet Fri, 28 Feb 2020 19:07:53 +0000

Silas Chisam

With a quarter of a ton of weight on the bar, the pressure is on to lift the weight off the ground and win that medal. Powerlifting is a winter sport that does not get as much recognition as others such as basketball and wrestling. But that does not mean they do not put in just as much work.

The powerlifting team has been competing since January and has the state tournament coming up soon. There are two different state meets, one where you are only allowed to use a belt and wrist wraps.

The other, which is coming up, is where you are allowed to use full body suits and other equipment that can help your lifts.

“The team has shown steady improvement throughout the season.  Our number of lifters varies from meet to meet, but I’m happy with our progress,” powerlifting coach Tobin Higgs said.

Powerlifting is a winter sport where athletes male or female compete in their own weight class to try to lift the most weight. There are individual weight classes for people to compete in. The athletes have to weigh in before the meets.

“Coach has us lifters do high weight, low rep lifts that allow us to gain strength and mass at higher rate,” junior Aden Perry said.

There are three different lifts that the lifters compete in.

“The lifts consist of bench press, squat, and deadlift,” Perry said.

They had their meets on the weekends and completed all around the state. The team practices all week with Higgs, varying the lifts from day to day to better the athletes so when the meets come on the weekends, Higgs strives to have the team be as successful as possible and will continue to better them so they can do their best at state and other big meets.

“Lifts vary from week to week, but we usually focus mainly on the 3 basic lifts and a few variations of them. Getting stronger and better at the lifts under meet conditions are the main goals right now,” Higgs said.

Some of the lifters at East lift close to if not more than a quarter of a ton which is the equivalent to 500 pounds. It takes a toll on your body so there are companies that make equipment to help these athletes lift heavier weight. There are multiple different pieces of equipment ranging from a wrist wraps that help you with your grip and stabilize your wrists, to a compression shirt that helps your bench press to increase it almost 20 pounds.

“Lifting is often more of a mental challenge than a physical one. The most important things to remember each day are to:  A.) warm-up well, B.) lift the bar with good technique, C.) breathe correctly and D.) challenge yourself and others to get a little better each workout / practice,” Higgs said.

]]> 0